Peters was responsible for 39 laws passed in 117th Congress; Stabenow, three
Michigan has the most effective United States senator in the nation, according to a research center that studies Congress, and it also has one of the least effective.
Democratic Sen. Gary Peters received the highest “legislative effectiveness score” of any senator in the 117th Congress (2021-22), according to the Center for Effective Lawmaking, a nonpartisan group that studies the effectiveness of lawmakers. The center is a collaboration of the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University.
Peters introduced 102 bills in the 117th Congress (2021-22), and 19 of those became law. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, also a Democrat, was near the bottom of the list, introducing 39 bills and receiving credit for three laws.
Peters headed the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, and 43 of the bills he introduced were assigned to that committee for a hearing. Those bills tended to deal with cybersecurity, especially in the federal government, and with federal government personnel matters.
Stabenow headed the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, and six of her bills were assigned to that committee. Only one of those bills received a hearing, and none became law, according to Congress.gov.
One of Stabenow’s bills that did become law created the National Heritage Area System within the Department of Interior. Another, co-sponsored by Peters and 66 other senators, awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to a professional hockey player. The Center for Effective Lawmaking also gave Stabenow credit for her role in the Training Psychiatrists for the Future Act, which was rolled into an omnibus spending bill that became law. Peters received credit for 10 other bills that became incorporated into other bills that became law. They dealt with transportation, foreign-made medicine and cybersecurity.
Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, was a distant second to Peters in the Senate. Stabenow ranked 43 out of 48 Democrats and scored lower than Angus King of Maine but higher than Bernie Sander of Vermont, senators who were officially independent but who caucused with Democrats.
The legislative effectiveness score gives each senator credit for how far a piece of legislation moves through the process. A senator or representative gets points for each stop, including a bill’s introduction, whether it receives a committee hearing, survives a floor vote and becomes law.
Some bills, such as bestowing a congressional medal or renaming a federal building, are ceremonial and receive fewer points. The index does not evaluate the merits of the legislation a lawmaker advocates.
Each lawmaker also receives a benchmark score, which is based on how long that person has been in office, whether the lawmaker is in the majority or minority party, or chairs a committee or subcommittee. The lawmaker is then put into one of three categories — exceeds expectations, meets expectations and below expectations — which forms a second way of evaluating members of Congress.
Peters was one of four Senate Democrats to exceed expectations, while Stabenow was one of seven to perform below expectations.