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 2015 Congressional Ratings, for the first session of the 114th Congress, scored 100 votes in the House of Representatives and 35 votes in the Senate. By comparison, CCAGW rated 85 votes in the House of Representatives and 13 votes in the Senate in the second session of the 113th Congress.
CCAGW rates members on a 0-100% 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 2015, 17 lawmakers (15 senators and two representatives) earned the coveted title of Taxpayer Super Hero by achieving the highest possible score of 100 percent: Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and David Vitter (R-La.), as well as Reps. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.).
In 2014, 17 lawmakers (nine senators and eight representatives) received a perfect score.
There are 36 Taxpayer Heroes in the Senate, an increase of 57 percent from the 23 Taxpayer Heroes in 2014. In 2015, there are 152 Taxpayer Heroes in the House of Representatives, two more than the 150 Taxpayer Heroes in 2014.
On the other end of the spectrum, 26 representatives had a score of zero and 25 senators had a score of zero. In 2014, one representative had a score of zero and 30 senators had a score of zero.
The first session of the 114th Congress was the first time since 2007 that the Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate. As a result, there were many more victories on behalf of taxpayers than in prior years, but numerous amendments to cut wasteful spending even further were defeated.
Repeal of Obamacare. H.R. 596, which would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, passed by a vote of 239-186.
Elimination of Duplicative Climate Change Programs. During consideration of H.R. 1806, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Ca.) offered an amendment that would eliminate a requirement for the Government Accountability Office to identify certain overlapping climate science-related initiatives. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 187-236.
Repeal of the Medical Device Tax. H.R. 160, the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2015, which would repeal the 2.3 percent medical device tax included in Obamacare, passed by a vote of 280-140.
Congressional Approval of “Major Rules.” H.R. 427, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2015, which would require Congress to approve all regulatory proposals with an economic impact greater than $100 million (“major rules”), passed by a vote of 243-165.
Elimination of the Federal Estate Tax. During consideration of S. Con. Res. 11, the fiscal year (FY) 2016 Budget Resolution, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) offered an amendment to eliminate the federal estate tax. The amendment was adopted by a vote of 54-46.
Solar Panel Rebates. During consideration of S. 1, the Keystone XL Pipeline, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) offered an amendment to establish a rebate program for individuals and businesses for the purchase and installation of solar panels on residential and commercial properties. The amendment failed by a vote of 40-58.
Obamacare for Members of Congress. During consideration of S. Con. Res. 11, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) offered an amendment to compel all members of Congress, the President, Vice President, and all political appointees to obtain their health insurance on the individual healthcare exchanges under Obamacare. The amendment was adopted by a vote of 52-46.
Prohibiting Federal Employment for Delinquent Tax Debt. H.R. 1563, the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act, would make existing and future federal employees with “delinquent tax debt” ineligible for employment with the federal government. The bill was rejected by a vote of 266-160 (284 votes were needed for passage).
Across-the-Board Cuts to Appropriations Bills. There were seven amendments in the Ratings to make across-the-board spending reductions in appropriations bills, but they all failed. For example, during consideration of H.R. 2028, the FY 2016 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, an amendment offered by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to cut 1 percent across the board was rejected by a vote of 159-248.
Essential Air Service (EAS). During consideration of H.R. 2577, the FY 2016 Transportation and Housing & Urban Development Appropriations bill, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Ca.) offered an amendment to eliminate funding for the EAS. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 166-255.
Export-Import Bank Reauthorization. The Export-Import Bank Reform and Reauthorization Act, H.R. 597, passed in the House by a vote of 313-118. This vote, along with several amendments related to the Export-Import Bank, are included in the Ratings, as CCAGW has long opposed this corporate welfare program.
Keystone XL Pipeline Veto Override. After the House and Senate voted to approve the Keystone project, the Senate failed to override the president’s veto by a vote of 62-37, five votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority.
Repeal the Individual Mandate in Obamacare. During consideration of H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) offered an amendment to repeal the individual mandate in Obamacare. The amendment failed by a vote of 54-45 (60 votes were needed for passage).
Repeal Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). During consideration of H.R. 1314, Trade Promotion Authority, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) offered an amendment to eliminate the extension of the TAA program. The amendment failed by a vote of 35-63.
CCAGW also analyzed ratings based on party affiliation and House membership in the Republican Study Committee.
The averages were: Senate Republicans – 93 percent, up 8 percentage points from 85 percent in 2014; Senate Democrats, including Independents – 5 percent, unchanged from 2014; House Republicans – 82 percent, down 2 percentage points from 84 percent in 2014; House Democrats – 4 percent, down 5 percentage points from 9 percent in 2014; House Republican Study Committee – 86 percent, down 1 percentage point from 87 percent in 2014.
CCAGW congratulates the members who stood by taxpayers and championed fiscal responsibility throughout the first session of the 114th Congress and encourages the constituents of the non-Heroes to demand better results in the 2016 election and beyond.