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Capito, Manchin rank among most bipartisan senators

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s two senators are among the most bipartisan legislators to serve in the United States Senate in recent history, according to rankings released last week.

The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University published the lifetime scores of 250 senators who served between January 1993 and December 2018. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., were ranked in the top 5% in the chamber’s lifetime bipartisan index.

Capito, who began serving in the Senate in January 2015, ranked seventh among the lawmakers, while Manchin placed 11th on the list.

The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy annually releases a bipartisan index, scoring lawmakers on how frequently they cosponsor legislation introduced from someone across the aisle. The ratings also consider how often lawmakers’ bills attract legislators from the opposing party. The yearly index evaluates legislators based on the most recent congressional session, a key difference from the most recent release.

“We come at it with the philosophy that you can have very strong political ideologies and still work with your colleagues across the aisle and get something done,” said Jamie Spitz, the Lugar Center’s assistant policy director for bipartisan governance.

Jamie Spitz

Spitz said the latest scores give an average of how each senator has worked in a bipartisan manner since entering the chamber; she added Capito and Manchin have done well throughout the congressional sessions they have served.

Capito ranked third in the bipartisan index for the 115th Congress, which met from January 2017 to January 2019, while Manchin was 25th in the same rankings.

“Joe Manchin was in the top five of the first three Congresses in which he served,” Spitz added.

Former Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller came in at 132nd in the lifetime index, while late Sen. Robert Byrd was 180th, two spots ahead of fellow Democrat Barack Obama.

Rockefeller served in the Senate from 1985 to 2015 — Capito succeeded him — while Byrd served from 1959 until his death in 2010; Manchin later won Byrd’s seat.

The index only scored senators who served more than 10 months; Carte Goodwin was ineligible as he served four months between Byrd’s death and Manchin taking office.

Spitz said the length of someone’s public service can affect one’s final ranking.

“If you get a really poor score, that’s going to affect you more if you haven’t been serving long,” she said. “Both Capito and Manchin have scored consistently well in all of the Congresses they have served.”

In a statement to MetroNews, Capito said she works to best serve the interests of West Virginians.

“I always put West Virginia first in all of my decision-making,” she said. “I ran for the Senate in order to be a strong voice for the Mountain State and to advance legislation that benefits my constituents and the country as a whole. I always strive to honor that commitment. I’m proud to have good relationships with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and I will continue to work in a bipartisan way to find real and meaningful solutions that better the lives of all West Virginians.”

Manchin’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Former Rhode Island senator Lincoln Chafee was ranked at the top of the index; Chafee served in the chamber as a Republican. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was second.

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