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John Katko ranked as second-most bipartisan member of Congress

A think tank has ranked U.S. Rep. John Katko as the second-most bipartisan member of the House of Representatives based on his support for legislation that has won the backing of Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

The Lugar Center, named for former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University ranked members of Congress based on their sponsorship and co-sponsorship of bills in 2019. Based on those calculations, Katko received the second-highest score among House members. Only U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican, scored higher.

Katko, R-Camillus, has sponsored 32 bills and cosponsored 290 measures in the current Congress. One of his guiding principles is to get a Democratic cosponsor whenever he introduces a new bill. Many of the bills he’s cosponsored have been authored by Democrats.

Part of the Lugar Center’s metrics is bipartisan intensity. While it recognizes a bill if there is at least one cosponsor from the opposite party, the center states in its methodology that members are rewarded for “introducing bills that receive more support from the opposing party, but with diminishing returns.”

“Many functions and decisions within Congress remain bitterly partisan, especially those pitting the leadership of the parties against one another,” said Dan Diller, policy director at the Lugar Center. “Yet the Bipartisan Index continues to find an undercurrent of bipartisan cooperation between individual members of Congress on introducing and co-sponsoring legislation.”

Katko has upgraded his standing in the Bipartisan Index over the last two years. He went from being the seventh-most bipartisan member in 2018 to the third spot in 2019

When the 116th Congress began in January 2019, Katko broke with Republicans to vote for rules changes proposed by Democrats. It was the first time a member of the opposing party voted for another party's rules proposal in two decades. 

He's also a leader within the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group that seeks to reach consensus on major legislative issues. And he's a co-chair of the Tuesday Group, a coalition of moderate Republicans in the House. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Katko has been willing to work with Democrats on relief bills and other measures. He joined U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for a joint virtual town hall meeting to discuss the federal response. They communicated often as lawmakers finalized a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill in March. 

Katko also partnered with a Democrat, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, to introduce legislation that would establish a 9/11-style commission to review the COVID-19 response. 

"As our country faces one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime, it is more important than ever before that we work across party lines," Katko said in a statement. "We need to deliver relief to American families, protect our nation's health care system and ensure our small businesses have the tools to survive. 

"Throughout this time, I have sought to work with both Democrats and Republicans, to build consensus on legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic and provide relief to those in need." 

The recognition from the Lugar Center is the latest honor Katko has received for his legislative record. The Bipartisan Policy Center presented its Legislative Action Award to Katko in 2019. 

The annual award is given to six members of Congress who haven't served more than three terms. Katko was recognized for his "independence and effectiveness." 

"During my time in Congress, I have consistently worked with both Democrats and Republicans to better central New York and our nation," he said. "Doing so has yielded significant results, passing meaningful legislation that protects drinking water, improves infrastructure, addresses the opioid epidemic and strengthens our national security. I'm honored to once again receive recognition for this work from the Lugar Center." 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.

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