The 112th Congress gaveled to a close last month, and now, organizations are beginning to assess lawmakers based on their voting records.
On Thursday, the National Journal released its annual Congressional Vote Ratings, which offers summaries of all congressmen and senators based on a selection of key roll call votes. The publication, which has produced ratings of Congress for the past three decades, took 116 key votes into account that occurred in each chamber to compile overall scores.
The ratings offer a unique insight into the voting patterns of both Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who rode a conservative tide into the House during the 2010 elections. Out of 239 House Republicans ranked, both Fleischmann and DesJarlais made the top 100 conservative members but fell shy of earning a spot in the top 50.
Fleischmann’s score ranked fifth among GOP members from Tennessee.
The ratings listed DesJarlais as being the 59th most-conservative member of the House, with a conservative composite score of 83.8. DesJarlais’ conservative ranking was third among Republican House delegation from Tennessee, with only Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Rep. Diane Black scoring higher on the list, at third and 26th, respectively.
Both Fleischmann and DesJarlais earned higher-than-average conservative rankings among their 87-member class of 2010.
Composite scores were determined by seeing if members’ votes aligned with conservative or liberal positions on key items of economic, social and foreign policy legislation. In a report explaining their method, the National Journal said the measure was not likely to be a “perfect” representation of ideology, but rather one of many tools to be considered for assessment.
“Keep in mind that no single measure of voting behavior is likely to be perfect,” the report reads. “For instance, some House Republicans occasionally voted against budget-cutting measures last year because they didn’t think the bills reduced spending enough.”
In the Senate, which includes 46 Republican members, neither Sen. Lamar Alexander nor Sen. Bob Corker were included among the top 50th percentile of conservative voters, the National Journal showed.
Alexander was rated the 39th most-conservative member in the Senate, with only six of his fellow Republicans earning lower scores. Corker was ranked the 35th most-conservative member of the Senate.
Earlier in the week, Americans for Prosperity, a Virginia-based conservative political advocacy group, released a similar set of rankings for House and Senate members. The group, which is committed to smaller government and economic freedom, issued its annual scorecard, which rates lawmakers based on “votes for economic freedom.”
In the House, both Fleischmann and DesJarlais received B grades, aligning with the group’s position 82 percent of the time.
In the Senate, Alexander received a 71 percent B grade, while Corker scored a 91 percent tally, good enough for an A but below A+.