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Journal News: Molinaro, Lawler ranked near top for bipartisan House work in 2023, annual score finds

New York Reps. Mike Lawler and Marc Molinaro were among the most bipartisan House members last year according to an annual score tracking how often Congress members work across the aisle by supporting bipartisan bills.

Molinaro, a Republican freshman whose district stretches from the mid-Hudson Valley to the Finger Lakes, came in second out of 436 representatives who held office in 2023 for the number of bills he sponsored or co-sponsored that had at least one Democratic supporter as well.

Lawler, a fellow GOP freshman representing part of the Lower Hudson Valley, fell just two notches below, finishing fourth among House members in the "bipartisan index" done by The Lugar Center and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Both New Yorkers touted their high marks for bipartisanship this week, selling points for their campaigns as they court moderate voters in competitive swing districts. Both narrowly won seats previously held by Democrats in 2022, and face tough re-election races that have been rated as toss-ups.

"When I came to Congress, I said I would do things differently and work with anyone who is honest and earnest about solving the problems we face," Molinaro said in a statement. "So this is more than just a ranking, it’s validation that my emphasis on good governance is working.”

The Lugar Center and Georgetown's McCourt School of Public Policy started the bipartisan index a decade ago to track how often each representative and senator β€” and Congress as whole β€” works across party lines on legislation. This sort of collaboration has declined in a highly polarized Washington, although the latest scores found some slight improvement last year.

Molinaro has had several bipartisan bills to help children and adults with disabilities, a cause he has championed since his days as Dutchess County executive. One of those bills is set for a House vote next week: a proposal requiring Amtrak to report all of its stations and trains that aren't fully accessible along with a timetable for when they will be brought into compliance with federal law.

Lawler said in a statement that the House has passed "a half-dozen of my bipartisan bills" and that he looked forward to "continuing my bipartisan track record."

The bipartisan index is based on the number of bipartisan bills each lawmaker sponsored or co-sponsored and their share of a lawmaker's total work. Any proposal supported by at least one member from each party is considered bipartisan, though those with greater opposite-party support earn more points. Only substantive bills are counted, not nonbinding resolutions or routine bills such as renaming post offices.

The House's bipartisan leader in 2023 was Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a fourth-term Republican from Pennsylvania who had the highest score by far and has topped the list for five years in a row. Taking up the rear with the least bipartisan work out of 436 members was Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Lawler and Molinaro worked across the aisle far more often than most of the colleagues in the House Republican majority. According to additional data provided by the Lugar Center, Lawler co-sponsored 214 bills that had been introduced by Democrats and Molinaro did the same on 173. The average for their GOP conference was 20.

Molinaro introduced 26 bills that at least one Democrat then co-sponsored, and Lawler had 13 such bipartisan bills. Their House GOP average was six.