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Peters Rated The #1 Most Effective Senator in U.S. Senate

Non-Partisan Center for Effective Lawmaking Recognizes Peters for His #1 Ranking in the 116th Congress (2019-2020), Cites Senator’s “Rare Distinction Despite Being in Minority Party” and the “Secret to His Success was in Coalition-Building”

WASHINGTON, DC – The non-partisan Center for Effective Lawmaking released its biannual ratings on effectiveness based on enacting and advancing legislation, and U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) was ranked at the top of the list (#1) in the 116th Congress (2019-2020). In that timeframe, Peters passed 10 standalone bills into law and 14 bills through the Senate – more than any other Senator from either party. All of his bills were passed and signed into law with bipartisan support. That’s despite the fact that Peters was serving in only his first term and was in the minority party. Peters was previously recognized as the 4th-most effective Democratic Senator by the Center for Effective Lawmaking for the 115th Congress (2017-2018).

“Michiganders expect us to get things done for them – and that’s always been my focus. I’m proud to be recognized as the most effective senator and for passing legislation on issues impacting Michiganders: from protecting the Great Lakes and waterfront communities – to making our communities safer and expanding skills training and apprenticeship opportunities for veterans,” said Senator Peters. “I will continue working to bring people together to solve challenges facing our state and nation.”

The Center for Effective Lawmaking writesAt the top of the list is Sen. Gary Peters, who has the rare distinction of being the most effective lawmaker in the Senate, overall, despite being in the minority party. Setting aside the 107th Senate (2001-02), in which Senate control shifted partway through the term from Republican to Democratic when Senator Jim Jeffords switched parties, Sen. Peters’s feat cannot be found anywhere else in the Center for Effective Lawmaking data, which stretch back to the early 1970s.

“Sen. Peters attained this high score through sponsoring 86 public bills, 24 of which made their way out of committee to the floor of the Senate. This alone is an accomplishment, as more than 93% of Democratic Senators’ bills died in committee in this Congress. But Sen. Peters’s successes continued with 14 of those bills passing the Senate, and 10 becoming law, which exceeds the previous record of seven laws by a minority-party Senator in our data.

“Making this accomplishment all-the-more remarkable was that Sen. Peters was engaged in a tough reelection battle during this Congress, which he won by less than two percent of the vote.  It is surprising that Sen. Peters was able to have so many successes to his name under the polarized and partisan Congress that seeks to limit minority-party members’ lawmaking successes.  One secret to his success was in coalition-building. Sen. Peters had at least one Republican cosponsor on each of his successful bills; and it was often the case that more Republicans than Democrats signed onto his bills.  This pattern of cosponsorship aligns well with research showing that bipartisan lawmakers are much more effective than partisan lawmakers, even in the majority party. 

“Sen. Peters, the most effective Senate lawmaker overall, was also the most effective in a remarkable six different issue areas (Agriculture, Government Operations, Labor, Macroeconomics, Public Lands, and Technology).”

To read the full report from the Center for Effective Lawmaking, click here.

The Center for Effective Lawmaking is a joint initiative between the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University, which rates each member of Congress based on a number of factors including the bills they sponsor, how far those bills move through the lawmaking process and how important they are.

Peters has consistently been named among the most effective and bipartisan Senators in the chamber. Last year, the non-partisan Lugar Center ranked him as the 3rd-most bipartisan Democrat . He earned the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship.

Peters had 10 bills signed into law in the 116th Congress, including:

  • The Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Act, which will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund and help states establish revolving loan funds that could be used by local governments to carry out mitigation projects that reduce natural disaster risk, including shoreline erosion and rising water levels. High water levels intensify the impacts of high winds and contribute to shoreline erosion. Along the Great Lakes, rising water levels have already flooded campgrounds and streets, caused boating problems due to submerged structures, and destroyed several beaches and homes. 
  • The Great Lakes Environmental Sensitivity Index Act, which will not only update ESI maps for the Great Lakes, but would additionally require periodic Great Lakes mapping updates. These new maps will provide more accurate assessments of coastal resources that are at risk of severe damage or a natural disaster, including endangered and threatened species, sensitive shoreline habitats, and widely used community resources such as beaches, parks and boat ramps. The Great Lakes ESI maps have not been updated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in over two decades, unlike ESI maps for the East coast, West coast, and Gulf coast that have been updated more recently. It is essential that ESI maps throughout the Great Lakes are regularly updated to provide an accurate representation of vulnerable locations and areas that need protection in the event of a disaster.
  • The Protecting America's Food and Agriculture Act of 2019, which will help address the shortage of agricultural inspectors who protect the nation’s food supply and agricultural industries at the border. It will help ensure the safe and secure trade of agricultural goods across our nation’s borders by authorizing U.S. Customs and Border Protection to hire additional inspectors, support staff and canine teams to fully staff America’s airports, seaports and land ports of entry.
  • The Drone Advisory Committee for the 21st Century Act, which will ensure the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s chief drone policy committee includes representation for agriculture, forestry, and rural America. Since it was first announced in 2016, the committee has never included a representative from the agriculture or forestry sector and no representatives from county or tribal governments have been selected to the policy board.
  • The Secure Federal LEASEs Act, which will determine if office space leased by the federal government is owned by foreign entities – including China. The bipartisan legislation was drafted in response to a 2017 Government Accountability Office report that several federal agencies were leasing high-security office space in foreign-owned properties, including six Federal Bureau of Investigation and three Drug Enforcement Administration field offices. The bill would specifically task the General Services Administration (GSA) with designing a system that identifies property owners if the space would be used for high-security purposes.
  • The One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act, which will permanently protect the Apollo landing sites on the moon. Specifically, the measure would enact first-of-its-kind legal protections for these historic sites from intentional and unintentional disturbances by codifying into law existing NASA preservation recommendations.