Congressional report card: Reed's record mixed

The Leader

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Washington, DC, February 2, 2014 | By James Post | comments

There were some high points – and some low points – for U.S. Rep. Tom Reed in doing the work voters sent him to Washington, D.C., to do in 2013.The Leader recently took a look at some statistics on Reed's performance last year in Congress, retrieved from www.govtrack.us, a nonpartisan website that tracks bills and votes in the House and Senate. First, the good news:

Reed was among the top members of Congress when it came to attracting bipartisan co-sponsors for the bills he proposes. In 2013, 65 percent of the bills Reed put forward had a Democrat signed on as a co-sponsor. He ranks 16th out of 435 members of the House in this category, putting him among the House's top writers of bills with bipartisan support. Another high point: Reed introduced 17 bills last year, the 59th highest total in the House. The most last year was 45, from Democrat Alan Grayson of Florida.

In 2013, Reed also gathered a large number of co-sponsors for his own bills, at 275 (76th highest), and had three bills introduced with a companion bill in the Senate, a fairly rare occurrence that usually indicates broad support for a proposal. However, none of those bills have become law – or even gotten a vote in the House.

That wasn't uncommon in a year during which very little got done in Congress. Only 46 members of the House had a bill signed into law, although Mike Coffman of Colorado and Hal Rogers of Kentucky, both Republicans, each managed to get three bills passed and signed by the president last year. And Reed's record on bipartisanship was mixed. While he gathered a number of Democratic co-sponsors for his bills, only 21 of the 126 bills Reed co-sponsored last year were written by Democrats.

Does that mean he was offering bills that attracted more support – or that Democrats were more willing to reach across the aisle to support the other party's legislation than Reed was? In general, Democrats were more likely to co-sponsor Republican bills than Republicans were to co-sponsor Democrats. Among House Republicans, the member with the best record tallied 40 percent of bills they co-sponsored that were written by a member of the other party. For most, including Reed, it was less than 20 percent. For one Democratic member, in contrast, 73 percent of bills co-sponsored were written by Republicans. The average among Democrats was around 40 percent.

Reed said he was confident in his record of bipartisan cooperation. “We're proud of our legislative record in partnering with colleagues on the other side of the aisle. When you offer fair, common sense policy that cares for the needs of constituents, gaining support from both parties takes care of itself,” he said in a statement.

One bill Reed pushed hard for last year clearly had support from both parties. The Revitalizing American Manufacturing and Innovation bill (RAMI), first proposed in July 2013 and officially introduced in the House in August, has gotten significant backing, including from President Barack Obama, who mentioned it in an early, high-profile part of his State of the Union address last week. The bill would create 12 regional facilities to bring together colleges and high-tech manufacturers to train workers and develop new manufacturing techniques.

In the State of the Union, Obama said he'd use executive authority to create six of those facilities this year. But he's waiting on the bill, introduced by Reed in the House, and a companion bill in the Senate, to put the full program in place. “Get those bills to my desk and put more Americans back to work,” Obama said last week. Despite the president's willingness to sign the bill, and bipartisan support in both chambers, it's yet to get through the committee process for a full vote. Reed was optimistic on the bill's chances in a conference call with reporters Jan. 20.

“The good news is we're making some headway,” he said. “It's going through the process as we speak.” He said he believed it would progress faster with more exposure. “The substance of the bill needs to be highlighted and members need to become educated on it,” Reed said.

It remains to be seen whether the primetime mention by the president will push the bill forward faster. One more statistic: Reed missed just over 4 percent of votes last year, although that was largely for unavoidable medical and family reasons.

In a statement to The Leader, he said he was focused on moving forward to 2014's legislative agenda. “We have an exciting year ahead of us and one we will use as an opportunity to act as a problem solver down in Washington for the hardworking taxpayers of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes,” Reed said.
 
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Tags: Economy

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