The Skinny

Ranking Member

A new report shows that U.S. Rep. McSally gets more done than many of her colleagues.

Congresswoman Martha McSally got some nice ink recently after scoring high in a report ranking the nation's "most effective lawmakers." McSally, who is in her second term, was ninth most effective among all GOP lawmakers, according to the study.

Craig Volden, a professor of public policy and politics at University of Virginia's Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and co-director of the Center for Effective Lawmaking, said that McSally "really outperformed expectations" in her first term.

McSally told The Skinny the same thing she's been telling audiences at her various legislative updates around town: She looks for legislation that has some bipartisan buy-in in order to overcome a Senate filibuster. "It has to be crafted in a way that solves the problem; but it also has to be crafted in a way that can get through the House, but also get it through the Senate. That's generally how we identify what the solution needs to be and set it up for success."

In today's polarized environment, that doesn't mean that much becomes law; only two of McSally's bills have received a presidential signature. One loosened hiring requirements for veterans who wanted to work for the Border Patrol, while another allowed WWII-era servicewomen to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. She did get another 13 bills through the House of Representatives, but they stalled later in the process.

The Center for Effective Lawmaking's model is certainly impressive; it takes into account whether the legislation was low-level (naming a post office) to significant (reforming the healthcare industry). It tracks legislation from the committee level all the way to the president's desk. And it reaches way back to 1970s, which also brings some perspective to the entire enterprise.

Congress has become much more partisan and polarized since then, with the Republican Party expelling moderate northeastern Republicans (Sen. Susan Collins aside), and Southern Democrats either switching parties or losing elections, according to Volden.

Volden's research suggests that Congress started getting more partisan after Newt Gingrich led the GOP revolution in 1994 and subsequent reforms put more power in the hands of party leaders and less in the hands of committee chairs. But he added that the era between the end of WWII and the 1980s represented something of an anomaly for American politics, and polarization was more common before that.

"In many ways, we are returning to what we've known throughout the operation of Congress," he said.

If you want to dig through the report, you can check the details out at

Kristen Randall, the leader of Indivisible Southern Arizona and one of the larger thorns in McSally's side, suggested the ranking should be seen in context.

"I just it depends on what your definition of effective is," Randall says. "Being effective doesn't mean that you're good. Standing in the chamber and saying, 'let's get this fucking thing done,' and that's your rallying cry when it's about taking health care away from people—yeah, I guess it's effective—it probably helped to rally people. Effective is about utility, it's not about whether it's good or bad."

Randall continues to hold regular Tuesday morning protests out in front of McSally's midtown offices on Broadway Boulevard. This week, Indivisible protested against legislation that would end the ban on the sale of silencers, the latest item on the GOP agenda. The vote on the Sportsmen's Heritage And Recreational Enhancement Act (or SHARE Act), which was expected as soon as this week, has been put on the back burner after the weekend's mass shooting in Las Vegas.

"I think that we really have weak gun policy in this country, and we can't allow more legislation to be passed that would weaken it further," Randall said. "If by going out and demonstrating and stopping the SHARE Act, we can save one life, it's totally worth it."

The Vegas mass shooting bumped a planned Indivisible protest against the proposed 20-week abortion ban that House leaders were pushing for a vote this week. Next Thursday, Oct. 12, Indivisible Southern Arizona plans to rally outside Sen. John McCain's office to protest the GOP's upcoming massive tax cut for corporations and America's wealthiest citizens. But Randall says that the plans could change; next Thursday, she says, is "like a light-year from now in Trump years. What will happen?"

McSally also got tagged last week as the most likely member of the Arizona delegation to vote with the Trump agenda, according to numbers guru Nate Silver's' website.

The Arizona Republic noted that after the first three quarters of the year, McSally had voted alongside the Trump agenda just under 96 percent of the time. That put her ahead of all other members of the Arizona delegation, but not by much in some cases: Both Reps. David Schweikert and Trent Franks were bumping up against 94 percent.

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