Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsReal relief from high gas prices The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden to announce increased measures for omicron Collins says she supports legislation putting Roe v. Wade protections into law MORE (R-Maine) are the easiest senators to work with, while Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyBiden signs four bills aimed at helping veterans The Hill's Morning Report - Ins and outs: Powell renominated at Fed, Parnell drops Senate bid On The Money — Biden sticks with Powell despite pressure 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 CarperOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems seek to preserve climate provisions Democrats wrangle to keep climate priorities in spending bill Five ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan MORE (Del.), Chris Dodd (Conn.), Evan Bayh (Ind.) and Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinFCC needs to help services for the deaf catch up to videoconferencing tech Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Ex-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa MORE (Iowa).
Following Collins on the GOP side are Sens. Olympia Snowe (Maine), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLobbying world Congress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears MORE (Utah), Richard Lugar (Ind.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News Trump's attacks on McConnell seen as prelude to 2024 White House bid 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 LandrieuCassidy wins reelection in Louisiana Bottom line A decade of making a difference: Senate Caucus on Foster Youth 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 SchumerChuck SchumerProgressive groups urge Schumer to prevent further cuts to T plan Collins says she supports legislation putting Roe v. Wade protections into law Biden should seek some ideological diversity MORE will, at times, join forces with South Carolina Republican Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Biden move to tap oil reserves draws GOP pushback 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 SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold 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 BurrTexas Democrat Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson announces retirement at end of term On The Money — IRS chief calls for reinforcements Burr brother-in-law ordered to testify in insider trading probe 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 RockefellerHumorless politics a sad sign of our times Bottom Line World Health Day: It's time to fight preventable disease MORE (D-W.Va.).
“She’s reasonable, principled and doesn’t get scared off by peer pressure,” Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillLobbying world Ex-Rep. Akin dies at 74 Republicans may regret restricting reproductive rights 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 DurbinConservatives target Biden pick for New York district court Democrats, GOP pitch parliamentarian on immigration policies in spending bill Senate parliamentarian looms over White House spending bill 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 KerryKerry calls out countries that need to 'step up' on climate change Those on the front lines of climate change should be empowered to be central to its solution To address China's coal emissions, the US could use a little help from its friends MORE (D-Mass.) is the fifth most partisan Democrat, according to the survey.
Democrats singled out Bunning, David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBiden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status Bottom line Lysol, Charmin keep new consumer brand group lobbyist busy during pandemic MORE (La.), Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnBiden and AOC's reckless spending plans are a threat to the planet NSF funding choice: Move forward or fall behind DHS establishes domestic terror unit within its intelligence office 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 AlexanderMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration Authorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate 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 BrownSenate race in Ohio poses crucial test for Democrats Powell says Fed will consider faster taper amid surging inflation Biden faces new pressure from climate groups after Powell pick 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 ReidBottom line Voters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama MORE (D-Nev.) said he works best with Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight House sets up Senate shutdown showdown Biden says he doesn't believe a government shutdown will happen MORE (R-Ky.) — “because I have to” — and McConnell said much the same of Reid. Kansas Republican Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call Bob Dole, Pat Roberts endorse Kansas AG Derek Schmidt for governor Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm 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 CornynHouse passes bill to expedite financial disclosures from judges McConnell leaves GOP in dark on debt ceiling Congress's goal in December: Avoid shutdown and default 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 & National Security — Senate looks to break defense bill stalemate Senate GOP moving toward deal to break defense bill stalemate Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table 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.)