As we get into the second month of the 113th Congress of the United States of America I thought it time to check in and see how our new Senators are comporting themselves on our behalf.
We have eight new Democratic senators joining Harry Reid's ranks in the upper chamber (nine if you include Independent Angus King who has done us the honor of joining our caucus).
I am going to try to keep track of our Freshman class to see where and how they decide to use their new Senatorial clout to advance issues important to them as well as us all.
Particularly, I would like to try to map this back to the issues that were central to their campaigns. I have a strong problem with candidates that latch onto popular sentiments of the election cycle and speak at length about the widening gap between rich and poor, encroaching attacks on women's rights, the plight of Organized Labor, etc and then get into office and fail to take strong action on the issues used to garner votes.
So as of today, 253 bills and resolution have been introduced to the Senate. Vault the Squiggly of the Great Orange Satan to see where things stand.
First, some simple summarizing stats:
Bills authored and introduced: ZEROA few things stand out as encouraging signs that these freshly minted legislators are taking their campaign issues to heart. Elizabeth Warren’s support for Dick Durbin’s bill (S.114) amending the bankruptcy rules to allow privately issued student loan debt to be discharged through bankruptcy strikes me as a bit of “promise-keeping” given her track record and comments on this issue.
Total co-sponsorships : 52
Bills unanimously co-sponsored by all nine Freshmen: ONE
(Patrick Leahy’s “bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act of 1994” (S.47))
Bills co-sponsored by only one Freshman: 14
Bills introduced by GOP and cosponsored by Freshmen: TWO
(Mr. King signed on to Susan Collins’ bill regarding base closures (S.206))
(Ms. Heitkamp cosponsored Barrasso’s bill addressing energy security for US allies (S.192))
Most Co-sponsorships: Mazie Hirono with 13
Least Co-sponsorships: Joe Donnelly and Tim Kaine each with 2
Naturally in light of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut senator Christopher Murphy quickly signed on to support Feinstein’s AWB ban (S.150), Blumenthal’s bill to restrict ammunition sales (S.174), Lautenberg’s ”Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act” (S.33) , as well Mark Begich’s bill ”to authorize grants for mental health first aid programs” (S. 153).
As for head-scratchers, hmmm…. I suppose I’m wondering a little bit about why Mazie Hirono is the ONLY freshman to cosponsor Al Franken’s bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to revise and extend projects relating to children and violence to provide access to”school-based comprehensive mental health programs” (S.195). No one else wanted to get on-board with that?
Tim Kaine, even after some of the shaninagans we’ve seen in Virginia elections, didn’t want to sign onto Kirsten Gillibrand’s bill ”to modernize voter registration and protect the ability of individuals to exercise their right to vote” (S.123) or even Harry Reid’s ”Clean and Fair Elections Act” (S.9)?
Regarding the bipartisan co-signings mentioned in the block above:
S.192 is a bill to enhance the energy security of United States allies, and for other purposes. The other title is "The Expedited LNG for American Allies Act of 2013" The full text has not been published by the GPO yet but given the title it is expected to garner support from any state with significant natural gas production. There are 11 co-sponsors, Heitkamp and Begich are the only Democrats.
S.206 is a bill ”to expand the HUBZone program for communities affected by base realignment and closure, and for other purposes”. This bill has also not yet been published but Angus King is the only senator to sign on as of yet. One would assume this is related to her work on the Small Business and Entrepreneurship committee and it is no surprise to see her fellow colleague from Maine to sign on.
And lastly, for those of you closely following the filibuster reform efforts. The formal resolution for this (aside from Reid just going nuclear and overriding a Parliamentarian rulling) is Tom Udall's S.Res.4. Six of our nine freshmen have cosponsored this resoltution, the 3 hold-outs are Joe Donnelly(IN), Heidi Heikamp(ND) and Mazie Hirono(HI).
NOTE: While I was a completely over-dosing campaign junky that wore out my F5 refresh key on fivethirtyeight.com over the course of several months last year, I readily confess to not knowing every particular from each of these senator's campaigns. If you know of an topic that any of these folks used as their hallmark issue, or a position you questioned as a bit of populist band-wagoning, please tell me about it in the comments so I can track it in the future. More and Better Democrats! We got ourselves nine more... now let's make sure they are BETTER!