The numbers are in — and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) isn’t going to like it.
According to the Washington Examiner, a new study from the nonpartisan Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) found that Pelosi ranked among the least effective members in the 116th U.S. Congress, which concluded at the start of this year.
Crunching the numbers
A joint project by the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University, the CEL assigns to each member of the lawmaking body a legislative effectiveness score that it says is “based on 15 metrics that take into account the number of bills a legislator sponsors, how far each of those bills advances through the legislative process from introduction to (possibly) becoming law, as well as its relative substantive significance.”
The CEL then releases these scores biannually following each Congress.
Its latest numbers put Pelosi 237th out of 240 Democrats, the Examiner reported. And Pelosi wasn’t the only one to rank poorly.
As the Examiner argues, being well-known among Americans doesn’t always translate to being an effective lawmaker. Upstart progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), for example, finished 230th of the 240 Dems.
The lowest-ranking Democrat was Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), according to the Examiner‘s report. Notably, all three — Pelosi, AOC, and Cooper — were re-elected in November 2020.
“Workhorses” and “showhorses”
Interestingly, some of the most well-known Republicans in Congress also did not score so highly in terms of legislative effectiveness. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a frequent face on conservative media airwaves, ranked 202nd out of the 205 members of the GOP who served in the 116th Congress, the Examiner reported.
The top Republican in the last Congress in terms of effectiveness, according to the CEL, was Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas. Rep. Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat no longer serving in the House, was the top Democrat, the CEL reported.
In a statement to USA Today, the CEL’s Craig Volden explained that in Congress, there are often “workhorses” and “showhorses.” While the latter seem to talk a big game, it’s the former who actually do most of the lawmaking, he said.
“We’ve found initial patterns that those more effective tend to be what we would call the workhorses rather than the showhorses, and because of their policy focus, they’re less likely to be called upon by the media,” Volden told USA Today.
“We’ve kind of relatedly found that those who are called on by the media, that there tends to be more of an interest in talking about…politicking and personalities than there is in talking about policy and lawmaking,” he added.