Since 1989, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) has examined roll call votes to help identify which members of Congress have defended taxpayer interests and which have backed down on their promises of fiscal responsibility. The Ratings separate the praiseworthy from the profligate by evaluating important tax, spending, transparency, and accountability measures. CCAGW applauds those members of Congress who stood up for taxpayers and ignored the temptations of satisfying local or special interests. However, those who supported a big-government agenda should be prepared to face the consequences for their spendthrift behavior.
CCAGW’s 2014 Congressional Ratings, for the second session of the 113th Congress, scored 85 votes in the House of Representatives and 13 votes in the Senate. By comparison, in 2013, CCAGW rated 80 votes in the House and 48 votes in the Senate.
CCAGW rates members on a 0 to 100% scale. Members are placed in the following categories: 0-19% Hostile; 20-39% Unfriendly; 40-59% Lukewarm; 60-79% Friendly; 80-99% Taxpayer Hero; and 100% Taxpayer Super Hero.
In 2014, 17 lawmakers (nine senators and eight representatives) earned the coveted title of Taxpayer Super Hero by achieving the highest possible score of 100 percent: Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.); and Reps. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.), Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), and Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.).
In 2013, Sens. Johnson, Scott, and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) earned a perfect score, but there were no House Super Heroes. In 2012, then-Rep. Flake and Reps. Jordan, Royce, Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), and Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) earned a perfect score, but there were no Senate Super Heroes.
The number of Taxpayer Heroes in the Senate decreased by 34 percent, from 35 in 2013 to 23 in 2014. In 2014, the House of Representatives had 150 Taxpayer Heroes, 14 percent higher than the 132 in 2013. In 2012, there were 26 Taxpayer Heroes in the Senate and 142 in the House of Representatives.
At the other end of the spectrum, only Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) had a score of zero, while in the Senate, 30 members (the “Dirty Thirty”) scored zero.
The second session of the 113th Congress marked the fourth year of the divided Congress that was elected in 2010. The results in 2014 were therefore the same as in 2011, 2012, and 2013, as the House of Representatives passed many waste-cutting bills, only to watch its hard work shut down when the legislation reached the Senate. Indeed, the Senate did so little work that there were only 13 votes worth rating.
Keystone XL Pipeline. H.R. 5682 would immediately allow TransCanada to construct, connect, operate and maintain the pipeline and cross-border facilities known as the Keystone XL pipeline, and would also consider the January 2014 environmental impact statement issued by the State Department sufficient to satisfy all requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. The bill passed by a vote of 252-161.
Municipal Broadband Internet Access. During consideration of the fiscal year 2015 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, H.R. 5016, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) offered an amendment that would bar the use of funds for the Federal Communications Commission to prevent the enforcement of state laws regarding municipal broadband Internet access. The amendment was adopted by a vote of 223-200.
IRS Conferences. During consideration of the Financial Services Appropriations bill, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) offered an amendment that would bar the use of funds for IRS conferences. The amendment was adopted by a vote of 264-157.
CCAGW, and therefore taxpayers, enjoyed no victories in the Senate during 2014. In the run-up to the mid-term elections, then-Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) purposely shielded Democratic senators from tough votes by shamelessly becoming the Senate’s obstructionist-in-chief, preventing any fiscally conservative legislation from reaching the president’s desk.
Fossil Energy Research and Development. During consideration of the fiscal year 2015 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, H.R. 4923, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) offered an amendment that would decrease by $30.9 million the amount provided for fossil energy research and development and transfer the savings to the bill's spending reduction account. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 184-235.
Car Leases by Lawmakers. During consideration of the fiscal year 2015 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill, H.R. 4487, Rep. Rich Nugent (R-Fla.) offered an amendment that would prohibit the chief administrative officer of the House of Representatives from making any payments from any members' representational allowance for the leasing of a vehicle, excluding mobile district offices. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 196-221.
Farm Bill. Long anathema to CCAGW, the Farm Bill, H.R. 2642, would reauthorize most federal farm and nutrition programs through fiscal year 2018, including crop subsidies; conservation, rural development, and agricultural trade programs; and food stamps (formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). It would also reauthorize the federal sugar program without any changes, and it would reauthorize three dairy programs and repeal four others. The bill was adopted by a vote of 251-166.
Keystone XL Pipeline. While the House vote on Keystone was a clear victory, the Senate’s rejection of the bill represented a significant defeat for American taxpayers. In a cynical parliamentary maneuver, the Senate agreed to raise the majority requirement for passage of the bill to 60 votes; thus, the bill was rejected by a vote of 59-41.
Workforce Training Evaluation Reports. During consideration of H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) offered an amendment that would require the Labor Department to submit an evaluation report every fourth year; if not submitted, the secretary's office budget would be reduced by 5 percent each year until the report was finalized. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 40-58.
Farm Bill. As it had been in the House, the Farm Bill, H.R. 2642, was equally objectionable in the Senate. It was adopted by a vote of 68-32, and, having passed the House, it was sent to President Obama, who signed it into law.
CCAGW also analyzed ratings based on party affiliation and House membership in the Republican Study Committee.
The averages were: Senate Republicans – 85 percent, down 4 percentage points from 89 percent in 2013; Senate Democrats – 5 percent, down 3 percentage points from 8 percent in 2013; House Republicans – 84 percent, up 5 percentage points from 79 percent in 2013; House Democrats – 9 percent, down 4 percentage points from 13 percent in 2013; House Republican Study Committee – 87 percent, up 5 percentage points from 82 percent in 2013.
CCAGW congratulates the members who stood by taxpayers and championed fiscal responsibility throughout the second session of the 113th Congress and encourages the constituents of the non-Heroes to demand better results in 2015 and beyond.