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Ranking Senate partisans

Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump looms over Senate's anti-Asian hate crimes battle Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds MORE (R-Maine) are the easiest senators to work with, while Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyCongress brings back corrupt, costly, and inequitably earmarks Biden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Senate GOP opens door to earmarks 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.

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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: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds Key Democrat says traveler fees should fund infrastructure projects Senate confirms Biden's pick to lead White House environmental council MORE (Del.), Chris Dodd (Conn.), Evan Bayh (Ind.) and Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinWe need a voting rights workaround Romney's TRUST Act is a Trojan Horse to cut seniors' benefits Two more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers MORE (Iowa).

Following Collins on the GOP side are Sens. Olympia Snowe (Maine), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchPress: Forget bipartisanship — it's dead! Privatization of foster care has been a disaster for children Remembering Ted Kennedy highlights decline of the Senate MORE (Utah), Richard Lugar (Ind.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGeorge W. Bush: 'It's a problem that Americans are so polarized' they can't imagine him being friends with Michelle Obama Congress brings back corrupt, costly, and inequitably earmarks Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting 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 Schumer'Building Back Better' requires a new approach to US science and technology Pew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Former state Rep. Vernon Jones launches challenge to Kemp in Georgia MORE will, at times, join forces with South Carolina Republican Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal Wall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study Biden aide: Ability to collect daily intel in Afghanistan 'will diminish' 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 SessionsGarland rescinds Trump-era memo curtailing consent decrees Biden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings 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 BurrA proposal to tackle congressional inside trading: Invest in the US Former Gov. Pat McCrory enters GOP Senate race in North Carolina Lara Trump leads GOP field in North Carolina Senate race, poll shows 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 RockefellerBottom Line World Health Day: It's time to fight preventable disease Lobbying World MORE (D-W.Va.).
“She’s reasonable, principled and doesn’t get scared off by peer pressure,” Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillGreitens Senate bid creates headache for GOP The Hill's Morning Report - Biden tasks Harris on border; news conference today Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens tangles with Hugh Hewitt in testy interview 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 DurbinBiden on refugee cap: 'We couldn't do two things at once' For a win on climate, let's put our best player in the game Biden angers Democrats by keeping Trump-era refugee cap 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 KerryUS, China say they are 'committed' to cooperating on climate change McCarthy hails 'whole-of-government approach' to climate Biden must compel China and Russia to act on climate 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 CoburnCongress brings back corrupt, costly, and inequitably earmarks Conservative group escalates earmarks war by infiltrating trainings Democrats step up hardball tactics in Supreme Court fight 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 AlexanderSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality Blunt's retirement deals blow to McConnell inner circle 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 BrownWorld passes 3 million coronavirus deaths Democratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents Big bank CEOS to testify before Congress in May 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 ReidThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Biden to tap Erika Moritsugu as new Asian American and Pacific Islander liaison White House races clock to beat GOP attacks MORE (D-Nev.) said he works best with Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump looms over Senate's anti-Asian hate crimes battle Appointing a credible, non-partisan Jan. 6 commission should not be difficult Why President Biden is all-in in infrastructure MORE (R-Ky.) — “because I have to” — and McConnell said much the same of Reid. Kansas Republican Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain Roy Blunt won't run for Senate seat in 2022 Lobbying world 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.”

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Even staunch opponents say they can work together. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John CornynJohn CornynMedia complicity in rise of the 'zombie president' conspiracy Trump looms over Senate's anti-Asian hate crimes battle Senators in the dark on parliamentarian's decision 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 InhofeThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause Biden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Biden defense budget criticized by Republicans, progressives alike 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.

MOST BIPARTISAN

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

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

LEAST BIPARTISAN

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

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