Last Monday, the Wheeling Intelligencer editorial praised West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito for her bipartisanship. The editorial cited the Lugar Bipartisan Index which placed Capito seventh among all senators serving since 2003*.
Today's Intelligencer’s editorial wants to give credit to Senator Capito for the passing of important legislation in committee. The editorial is titled
Capito Leadership Making Difference
The editorial tells us:
Some members of Congress who have been vocal in wringing their hands over the humanitarian crisis among people coming across our southern border into the United States seem to be among those reluctant to do anything about it. Good for U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, for forging a bipartisan consensus on the matter.
Capito is chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. In that post, she helped to engineer a 30-1 subcommittee vote in favor of providing an additional $4.6 million to address both the humanitarian and security crises on the border.
Except that’s not how other news sources reported responsibility for the bill’s passage. Here’s the New York Times:
As the chief architects of the compromise, [Republican] Mr. Shelby and Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the committee’s top Democrat, noted that both sides were forced to acquiesce on certain issues to reach the agreement.
The committee vote was 30-1 on the bill, a bipartisan agreement between Shelby and Leahy, the panel's top Democrat.
By the way, the bill was not passed by Capito’s Homeland Security Subcommittee (as the editorial tells us) but rather by the Senate Appropriation Committee. Additionally, the editorial incorrectly states $4.6 million. It's actually billion.
*As I blogged when local representative David McKinley placed high in last year’s Lugar Index, the methodology for the index scoring is based upon a representative’s willingness to co-sponsor legislation (regardless of its importance) with a member of the opposition party. For instance, Capito’s “Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act” had a Democratic co-sponsor and so it would have scored well with the Lugar Index. I think a better indication of bipartisanship would be a representative’s willingness to break with their party and vote with the opposition on meaningful legislation. (Sorry, I don’t find “marksmanship” that meaningful.) For instance, according to FiveThirtyEight, Capito is 2nd among all current senators in supporting legislation backed by Trump. For me, voting with Trump 96% of the time makes Capito very partisan.) I’m not always a fan of Senator Manchin’s voting with Republicans but when I see that Capito outscored Manchin on the Lugar Bipartisan Index, it strikes me that there is a clear problem with the Index’s methodology.