By J. Taylor Rushing - 04/20/09 08:31 PM EDT
Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Susan CollinsSusan CollinsGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA House Republicans pushing gun control bill The Trail 2016: Berning embers MORE (R-Maine) are the easiest senators to work with, while Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahySenate Dems rip GOP on immigration ruling Bernie Sanders’s awkward return to the Senate Senate heads toward internet surveillance fight 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.
After Kennedy, the most bipartisan Democrats are Sens. Tom CarperTom CarperWhite House seeks distance from ISIS transcript edit White House: Redaction decision was all Justice Dem senator: CDC already has authority to study guns MORE (Del.), Chris Dodd (Conn.), Evan Bayh (Ind.) and Tom HarkinTom HarkinDo candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? The Hill's 12:30 Report Mark Mellman: Parsing the primary processes MORE (Iowa).
Following Collins on the GOP side are Sens. Olympia Snowe (Maine), Orrin HatchOrrin HatchMedicare trust fund running out of money fast Long past time to fix evidence-sharing across borders Overnight Tech: Facebook's Sandberg comes to Washington | Senate faces new surveillance fight | Warren enters privacy debate MORE (Utah), Richard Lugar (Ind.) and John McCainJohn McCainMarines reignite debate on women in combat Gun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA Report: Prominent neoconservative to fundraise for Clinton 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 Landrieu oil is changing the world and Washington Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Republican announces bid for Vitter’s seat 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 SchumerGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA This week: Senate showdown over gun control Dems push vulnerable GOP senators on gun control MORE will, at times, join forces with South Carolina Republican Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote Senate Republicans may defy NRA on guns 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 SessionsJeff SessionsTrump hopes for boost from Brexit vote GOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call Sessions warns of 'radical' Clinton immigration policy 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 BurrGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA GOP senator on ISIS: 'Take the fight to them' GOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call 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 RockefellerJay RockefellerLobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner Overnight Tech: Senate panel to vote on Dem FCC commissioner MORE (D-W.Va.).
“She’s reasonable, principled and doesn’t get scared off by peer pressure,” Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillOvernight Tech: Obama heads back to Silicon Valley | FCC meeting preview | Yahoo bans terror content | Zuckerberg on sit-in live streams Senator shares frustrating call with cable company Hate TV customer service? So does your senator 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 DurbinDick DurbinSenate Dems link court fight to Congressional Baseball Game Dems: Immigration decision will 'energize' Hispanic voters Senate Dems rip GOP on immigration ruling 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 KerryDozens of Clinton meetings left off State schedule: report Overnight Cybersecurity: Sit-in disrupts cyber hearings | Trump tries to defend claim Clinton was hacked Kerry backs government access to encrypted data MORE (D-Mass.) is the fifth most partisan Democrat, according to the survey.
Democrats singled out Bunning, David VitterDavid VitterFed chairwoman blasts Trump on debt Senate campaign posts private conversation on Facebook Rand Paul endorses in La. Senate race MORE (La.), Tom CoburnTom CoburnCoburn: I haven't seen 'self-discipline' from Trump McCain: No third-party foes coming for Trump Tough choice for vulnerable GOP senators: Embrace or reject Trump 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 AlexanderLamar AlexanderBipartisan gun measure survives test vote Overnight Healthcare: GOP plan marks new phase in ObamaCare fight Stoddard: The great Trump rebellion 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 BrownSenate Dem won't rule out blocking Puerto Rico debt relief Dodd and Frank: Judge was wrong in Dodd-Frank ruling Bernie Sanders’s awkward return to the Senate 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 ReidSay NO to PROMESA, say NO to Washington overreach Overnight Finance: Wall Street awaits Brexit result | Clinton touts biz support | New threat to Puerto Rico bill? | Dodd, Frank hit back McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns MORE (D-Nev.) said he works best with Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSunday shows preview: Next steps after Trump upheaval Gun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA McConnell: Trump needs to act like a 'serious candidate' MORE (R-Ky.) — “because I have to” — and McConnell said much the same of Reid. Kansas Republican Pat RobertsPat RobertsUSDA extends comment period for 'certified organic' animal rule Senate contradicts itself on Gitmo GOP senators propose sending ISIS fighters to Gitmo 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.”
“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 InhofeEPA proposes climate rule incentives despite court hold GOP chairman: EPA could ‘restructure every industrial sector’ GOP in disarray over Trump furor 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.
THE MOST, AND LEAST BIPARTISAN MEMBERS OF THE SENATE
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.)