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Washington Daily Life

The U.S. Capitol dome is seen under repair on Capitol Hill in Washington. 

What do hardline conservative Ted Cruz and socialist Bernie Sanders have in common?

Neither presidential candidate likes to cooperate.

Cruz and Sanders were dead last in a smart analysis last week of bipartisan efforts to pass legislation in Washington. Most of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation also scored low for failing to work across party lines in a serious way.

It’s more evidence that Congress is becoming dysfunctional, with fewer leaders willing to do the hard work of finding agreement. In fact, the last two Congresses were the most partisan among the last 11 analyzed by the Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.

Only three of Wisconsin’s representatives — U.S. Reps. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, and Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood — scored well in the study and, according to its authors, can be considered “bipartisan legislators.”

The Lugar Center, founded by former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, and Georgetown researchers looked at how often members of Congress sponsored legislation with members of the opposite political party. They accounted for variations based on which political party is in power, constructing a 20-year baseline of data for comparison.

“What we are measuring is ... the efforts of legislators to broaden the appeal of their sponsored legislation, to entertain a wider range of ideas, and to prioritize governance over posturing,” the authors wrote.

Kind ranked as the 11th most bipartisan member of the 435-member House of Representatives. Sensenbrenner, who last fall introduced a smart plan with Kind to rein in excessive crop subsidies to farmers and insurance companies, ranked 36th. Ribble, who unfortunately is leaving Congress after only three terms, was the 75th best House member at cooperating.

The rest of Wisconsin’s delegation scored poorly: Mark Pocan, D-Black Earth, ranked 278th; Sean Duffy, R-Weston, 291st; Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, 305th; and Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, 338th. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, tanked at 428th. Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, finished 52nd and 80th, respectively, in the 100-member Senate.

Wisconsin and Washington must do better. Only through an honest attempt at give-and-take legislation can America solve its biggest challenges, including debt, a broken immigration system and convoluted tax code.

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