Looking for America’s most bipartisan member of Congress? He’s right here in the Delaware Valley.
Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District is at the top of new rankings released by the Lugar Center, a D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting bipartisanship.
The rankings measure “how often a member of Congress introduces bills that succeed in attracting co-sponsors from members of the other party, and how often they in turn co-sponsor a bill introduced from across the aisle,” according to the Lugar Center’s report.
Fitzpatrick, whose district encompasses Bucks County along with a small slice of Montgomery County, set a new record for the rankings “built on his co-sponsorship of 673 bills offered by the other party.”
It’s not a one-off for Fitzpatrick, either. He finished second in the center’s ranking for the previous congressional session.
In just the last week, Fitzpatrick unveiled a bill with Democrat Rep. Susan Wild from Pennsylvania’s Seventh Congressional District to halt a scheduled drop in funding for the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in October.
Jeff Brauer, a political science professor at Keystone College, says the Lugar Center confers a serious amount of gravitas in a ranking like this and added that Fitzpatrick’s record stands out from the pack.
“His co-sponsorship is nearly three times the second-place representative,” Brauer told Delaware Valley Journal.
“Co-sponsorship is a clear sign of the willingness to moderate views for the practical good of getting things done. Co-sponsorship is essential for getting the necessary support for legislation to move through the long, complicated process. Many times, co-sponsorship involves bargaining and compromises to get as many representatives onboard as possible.”
The accolades come after a month of positive news for the incumbent Republican in which he reported solid fundraising numbers for the first quarter and saw his chances for reelection upgraded by several news and pundit websites like Politico and Rasmussen Reports.
Brauer said bipartisanship still exists in D.C. even though it may feel as if it has disappeared completely. He attributes that to the national media generally focusing on leadership positions such as senate majority leader or speaker of the house because that’s where most of the power lies, “but that is also where much of the hyperpartisanship is found,” he said.
“And let’s face it, the fighting and tension of partisanship make more interesting news stories than cooperation and compromise of bipartisanship.”
On his congressional website, Fitzpatrick said hyperpartisanship is “the single biggest threat facing our nation.”
“If one chooses partisanship and condemns those who think differently, they are part of the problem,” he said. “If one chooses bipartisanship and seeks to build bridges with those who think differently, they are part of the solution. I have chosen, and will continue to choose, the path of bipartisanship and problem solving because I love the United States of America, the greatest country on Earth.”
Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine was listed as the most bipartisan lawmaker in the upper chamber, but the Lugar Center said the rankings between the House and Senate use different data, “so the scores of House members are not comparable to those of Senators.”
The Lugar Center is named after former Indiana Senator Richard Lugar and is a “non-profit organization focusing on global food security, WMD nonproliferation, aid effectiveness, and bipartisan governance,” according to its website.