Ranking Senate partisans

Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand FCC to officially rescind net neutrality rules on Thursday MORE (R-Maine) are the easiest senators to work with, while Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyGrassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees Popular bill to fight drug prices left out of budget deal Judiciary Dems want public hearings with Kushner, Trump Jr. MORE (D-Vt.) and Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) are the most partisan members of the upper chamber, according to a survey conducted by The Hill.

The Hill asked all 99 seated senators which member of the opposing party they most enjoyed partnering with on legislation. The senators were also quizzed (on a not-for-attribution basis) about their least favorite.

The answers reveal a Senate with surprising alliances, close friendships and some personal resentments.

After Kennedy, the most bipartisan Democrats are Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperTrump states would bear brunt of gas tax increase: conservative groups Trump talk riles advocates on both sides of gas tax Senate bill would let EPA implement global greenhouse gas deal MORE (Del.), Chris Dodd (Conn.), Evan Bayh (Ind.) and Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinTrump should require federal contractors to follow the law Orrin Hatch, ‘a tough old bird,’ got a lot done in the Senate Democrats are all talk when it comes to DC statehood MORE (Iowa).

Following Collins on the GOP side are Sens. Olympia Snowe (Maine), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOvernight Finance: NAFTA defenders dig in | Tech pushes Treasury to fight EU on taxes | AT&T faces setback in merger trial | Dems make new case against Trump tax law | Trump fuels fight over gas tax What sort of senator will Mitt Romney be? Not a backbencher, even day one Lawmaker interest in NAFTA intensifies amid Trump moves MORE (Utah), Richard Lugar (Ind.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Trump set a good defense budget, but here is how to make it better MORE (Ariz.).

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) did not make the top five despite voting for President Obama’s economic stimulus package. Collins and Snowe were the only other Republicans in Congress to back that bill.

Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuProject Veritas at risk of losing fundraising license in New York, AG warns You want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible CNN producer on new O'Keefe video: Voters are 'stupid,' Trump is 'crazy' MORE (D-La.) regularly buck their party, but neither cracked the top five.

Obama has vowed to change the tone of Congress, urging members of both parties to put “childish” politics aside. The president’s call for bipartisanship has generated mixed results, with partisanship flaring during the recent budget debates in the House and Senate.

Working across the aisle sometimes depends on ideology, but not in every case. For example, New York Democrat Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats now attack internet rules they once embraced Schumer: Trump budget would ‘cripple’ gun background checks Schumer: Senate Republicans' silence 'deafening' on guns, Russia MORE will, at times, join forces with South Carolina Republican Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Pence tours Rio Grande between US and Mexico GOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures MORE. And staunch conservative Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said he misses working with Obama in the Senate.

Kennedy’s affability was cited by some of the Senate’s most conservative Republicans, including Hatch, Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsUnder pressure, Trump shifts blame for Russia intrusion Overnight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand MORE (Ala.) and Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.).

“I’d love to co-sponsor every piece of legislation with Ted Kennedy,” said Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOvernight Finance: Senate rejects Trump immigration plan | U.S. Bancorp to pay 0M in fines for lacking money laundering protections | Cryptocurrency market overcharges users | Prudential fights to loosen oversight Senators introduce bill to help businesses with trade complaints Our intelligence chiefs just want to tell the truth about national security MORE (R-N.C.). “When Ted says he’s going to do something, he’s committed to it.”

Democrats hailed the two centrist senators from Maine.

“They are Republicans who want to get something done,” said Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerOvernight Tech: Trump nominates Dem to FCC | Facebook pulls suspected baseball gunman's pages | Uber board member resigns after sexist comment Trump nominates former FCC Dem for another term Obama to preserve torture report in presidential papers MORE (D-W.Va.).
“She’s reasonable, principled and doesn’t get scared off by peer pressure,” Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMcCaskill welcomes ninth grandson in a row Dem group launches M ad buy to boost vulnerable senators Senate Dems block crackdown on sanctuary cities MORE (D-Mo.) said of Collins.

Discussing Snowe, Landrieu said, “She’s strong in her opinions and she’s not easily swayed, but she is sway-able, which makes her open-minded.” Landrieu and Snowe are the top members of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.

Leahy attracted widespread criticism from GOP senators. Vice President Cheney famously told Leahy “to go f—- yourself” in 2004.

Aside from Leahy, the other Democratic senators deemed the hardest to work with are Schumer, Majority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinAmerica’s waning commitment to the promise of the First Amendment Senate rejects Trump immigration plan What to watch for in the Senate immigration votes MORE (Ill.) and Dodd (Conn.).

“They’re guys that like to wield their positions,” said one GOP senator.

Dodd was the only senator who made both the bipartisan and partisan lists. Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes Kerry2020 Dem contenders travel to key primary states When it comes to Colombia, America is in a tough spot 36 people who could challenge Trump in 2020 MORE (D-Mass.) is the fifth most partisan Democrat, according to the survey.

Democrats singled out Bunning, David VitterDavid Bruce VitterTrump nominates wife of ex-Louisiana senator to be federal judge Where is due process in all the sexual harassment allegations? Not the Senate's job to second-guess Alabama voters MORE (La.), Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnPaul Ryan should realize that federal earmarks are the currency of cronyism Republicans in Congress shouldn't try to bring back earmarks Republicans should know reviving earmarks is a political nightmare MORE (Okla.) and DeMint as the most difficult. One Democratic senator called them “a bunch of 4-year-olds.”

Several Democrats said Bunning in particular is so irascible that they don’t even try to speak to the Hall of Fame pitcher unless it’s about baseball.

“Jim just makes it difficult,” said one Democrat. “Sometimes you have a sense of where your bipartisan outreach maybe won’t be successful, so you tend to not even engage.”

Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Trump health chief backs CDC research on gun violence | GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix | Groups sue over cuts to teen pregnancy program GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix 30 million people will experience eating disorders — the CDC needs to help MORE is the fifth most partisan GOP member, according to The Hill’s survey. However, several Democrats praised the Tennessee lawmaker as a cooperative legislative partner.

Many senators said working well with a member of the opposing party often depends on reasons outside their control — committee assignments that pair a chairman with a ranking member, for example, or the fact that a home-state colleague may be from the other side of the aisle.

But many also pointed to personality.

“There are some members of the Senate that you may disagree with 90 percent of the time, but they’re looking for that 10 percent and so are you,” said Graham. “Part of it is attitude. Some senators have a better attitude about finding that 10 or 20 percent than others.”

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownLawmaker interest in NAFTA intensifies amid Trump moves Dem senator shares photo praising LeBron James after Laura Ingraham attacks Trump gets recommendation for steep curbs on imported steel, risking trade war MORE (D-Ohio), who was elected in 2006, said, “It’s partly about, ‘Who wants to work together?’ instead of ‘Who’s likely to agree with you on issues?’ That’s why some are easier than others.”

Brown revealed he keeps track of all the Republicans with whom he works: “I keep a notebook that I don’t share with anybody, and I mark in there who I’ve worked with. I have a goal of working with almost every Republican on a major issue.”

The chamber’s two leaders named each other as their across-the-aisle favorite. Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWATCH: There is no Trump-Russia collusion and the media should stop pushing this The demise of debate in Congress ‘North by Northwest,’ the Carter Page remake MORE (D-Nev.) said he works best with Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (R-Ky.) — “because I have to” — and McConnell said much the same of Reid. Kansas Republican Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsOvernight Finance: Lawmakers, Treasury look to close tax law loopholes | Trump says he backs gas tax hike | Markets rise despite higher inflation | Fannie Mae asks for .7B Senators working on fix to agriculture provision in GOP tax law Trump budget would slash crop insurance funds for farmers MORE said Reid was a favorite of his when both men led the Ethics Committee. Durbin named several centrist Republicans but said he is trying to work with more members of the GOP.

“At the end of the day, if I give a great Democratic speech and end up with 58 votes, I don’t win,” Durbin said. “So I try to find some way to leave the door open for Republicans to join me.”

Even staunch opponents say they can work together. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John CornynJohn CornynLawmakers feel pressure on guns Kasich’s campaign website tones down gun language after Florida shooting Murphy: Trump’s support for background check bill shows gun politics ‘shifting rapidly’ MORE (Texas) has struck up a relationship with Leahy, for example, and Cornyn’s predecessor, John Ensign (Nev.), named Schumer as one of his favorites last year — despite the fact that both men led their parties’ respective senatorial campaign committees.

“There’s an old saying about the Senate: ‘There’s no permanent friends, just permanent issues,’ ” Ensign said. “You have to work across the aisle if you’re ever going to get anything done.”

Among the surprise findings from the poll: Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: First Gitmo transfer under Trump could happen 'soon' | White House says Trump has confidence in VA chief | Russia concedes 'dozens' of civilians injured in Syria clash Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived House passes deal to end shutdown MORE (R-Okla.) has struck up a friendship with Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.). Burris, meanwhile, is a fan of Hatch’s wardrobe.
Conservative Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.) misses the late liberal Sen. Paul Wellstone (Minn.) — “one of the funniest guys I’ve worked with.”

He added, “He was just passionate. We’d call each other names for a little while and then we’d go work with each other … He was once upset at some ranking that had just come out that said he was the second most liberal senator here. He said, ‘You did this to me! I was the most liberal one here, and because I’ve been working with you I’m now in second place.’ ”

Click here to read the Republicans' responses and here for Democrats' responses.


Who’s the easiest senator to work with across the aisle? Who’s the toughest? The Hill asked all 99 seated senators about their colleagues’ bipartisanship, and the following names — arranged by frequency, from top to bottom — were cited the most.


1. Edward Kennedy (Mass.)
2. Tom Carper (Del.)
3. Chris Dodd (Conn.)
4. (tied) Evan Bayh (Ind.)
4. (tied) Tom Harkin (Iowa)

1. Susan Collins (Maine)
2. Olympia Snowe (Maine)
3. Orrin Hatch (Utah)
4. (tied) Richard Lugar (Ind.)
4. (tied) John McCain (Ariz.)


1. Patrick Leahy (Vt.)
2. Charles Schumer (N.Y.)
3. Chris Dodd (Conn.)
4. Dick Durbin (Ill.)
5. John Kerry (Mass.)

1. Jim Bunning (Ky.)
2. David Vitter (La.)
3. Tom Coburn (Okla.)
4. Jim DeMint (S.C.)
5. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)