Christian Coalition Congressional Ranking Favors GOP, AU Charges

Article excerpt

A new Americans United analysis of the Christian Coalition's recently released "Congressional Scorecard" shows that the document is clearly biased in favor of Republicans, mirroring results from last year.

Americans United charges that the scorecards serve as yet another vehicle for partisan propaganda by TV preacher Pat Robertson's political group.

In the House of Representatives, the average member received a 55.69 score out of a possible 100. In other words, the typical representative voted with the Coalition position almost 56 percent of the time, which is up almost a full three points from the 1997 scorecard. However, despite the group's assurances of impartiality, the average score for Republican House members is over four times higher than their Democratic counterparts. The House GOP average came in at 88.65 while Democrats averaged only 19.27.

Top House GOP leaders Newt Gingrich (Ga.), Dick Armey (Texas) and Tom Delay (Texas) all earned 100 percent rankings. For that matter, the rest of the Republican House leadership team, including Conference Chairman John Boehner (Ohio), Conference Secretary Jennifer Dunn (Wash.), Chief Deputy Whip Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and National Congressional Committee Chairman John Linder (Ga.) also all received perfect 100 percent scores. On the other side of the aisle, Democratic Minority leader Richard Gephardt (Mo.) tallied a 13 and Minority Whip David Bonior (Mich.) got a 14.

Though the U.S. Senate has a reputation for moderation and deliberation, the chasm between Christian Coalition scores for the political parties there was even more dramatic than in the House. On average, GOP scores in the Senate were 12 times higher than Democratic scores, with the average Republican racking up an 83.73 and the average Democrat receiving a 7.06.

Only two Democratic senators posted a score above 25 (Joseph Biden of Delaware, who received a 27, and John Breaux of Louisiana, who earned a 36), while 20 of the 45 Senate Democrats received zeroes. Only one Republican fell below 20 (James Jeffords of Vermont, with a 9), while 18 GOP senators were given a perfect 100 ranking. These numbers closely resemble those of the 1997 Coalition scorecard, where 22 Senate Democrats posted zeroes and 16 Senate Republicans got 100s.

As is the case in the House, approval for the Senate leadership appeared to be closely tied to party affiliation. Republican leaders, including Majority Leader Trent Lott (Miss.) and Assistant Majority Leader Don Nickles (Okla.), were given 100 scores. Minority Leader Tom Daschle (S.D.) got a 9 and Democratic Committee Chairman John Kerry (Mass.) got a zero.

Of the 143 members of Congress who scored 10 or less, 140 are Democrats, two are Republicans and one is an independent (Rep. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, who got a seven). On the other hand, 185 members received a score of 90 or above, and 182 of them were Republicans. …