March 18, 2021
By: Tyler Eckel
Independent study by UVA, Vanderbilt measures legislative effectiveness in 116th Congress
A newly published, independent analysis on the legislative effectiveness of members of Congress ranks Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) as the most effective Republican lawmaker on healthcare issues in the House of Representatives. The study also shows that Rep. Smith is the second most effective House Republican lawmaker overall.
The Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL)—a nonpartisan, joint partnership between the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Vanderbilt University—said Smith “can be effective at lawmaking, even in a Democratic-controlled House.” They added that Smith has continued his streak of “exceeding expectations” in Congress compared to his colleagues, ranking in the top five for the longest streak of all members in the House.
“Effective law making requires working across the aisle in good faith—and respecting others even when there are fundamental disagreements—in order to achieve fair and sustainable solutions to problems,” said Rep. Smith. “I have always searched for areas of agreement to enact laws that make a positive difference, and I will continue to work tirelessly to help the people of New Jersey and those across the country on a wide-range of important issues.”
The CEL measures the effectiveness of congressional lawmakers by using a combination of fifteen metrics that track the number of bills sponsored by a member, the substance of the proposed policies, and how far they move through the lawmaking process.
Smith—who has the second most bills enacted into law out of the 435 members of the House according to a compilation of the data available through the Library of Congress—has a notable reputation for working across the aisle to pass laws that protect the vulnerable, especially women, children, individuals with autism, veterans and others in need.
The study is not the first to show that Smith has a keen ability to get things done in Congress. Last year, Smith received recognitions from two other independent groups—Georgetown University’s Lugar Center and McCourt School of Public Policy and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—for his bipartisanship and leadership in working across party lines on important legislation.
When Smith received the inaugural Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship from the U.S Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Vice President Jack Howard said: “Many are looking to our nation’s government and elected leaders for answers during this time. We need pragmatic political leaders who have the courage to solve huge business and economic growth issues through common sense solutions built from a durable political center, not ideological corners.”
And when the Lugar Center and McCourt School ranked Smith as one of the most bipartisan members of Congress, Georgetown’s McCourt School Dean Maria Cancian said: “While hyper-partisanship continues in Congress, our latest Bipartisan Index––a nonpartisan and data-driven tool––points to a crosscurrent of cooperation among lawmakers. This offers hope, as our future depends on our ability to work together across the aisle and across differences for the common good.”