By: Craig Gilbert: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The most “bipartisan” congressman from Wisconsin, according to one recent study, is moderate Democrat Ron Kind of La Crosse.
Which makes sense politically, since his mostly rural district isn’t dominated by either major party. In fact, it’s the most competitive U.S. House seat in the state.
But the No. 2 Wisconsin lawmaker on the list doesn’t fit this pattern at all.
Republican Jim Sensenbrenner is nowhere near the middle politically (he ranks as one of the most conservative members of Congress). And he represents one of the state’s most politically one-sided districts, which includes the ultra-Republican outer suburbs of Milwaukee.
But Sensenbrenner, who has served longer than all but two U.S. House members, has forged coalitions with Democrats and liberals over the years on issues ranging from voting rights to criminal justice to the Patriot Act.
“It can be done,” says Dan Diller of the Lugar Center, which publishes a “Bipartisan Index” of Congress. The ratings are based on how often lawmakers introduce bills that attract co-sponsors from the opposing party, and how often they co-sponsor bills introduced by colleagues from the other party.
It’s just one of many ways to define bipartisanship, but it’s a concrete, quantifiable measure of the effort members make at the front end of the legislative process to work across party lines. That is a practice this particular nonprofit group is trying to promote, and one that some scholars say makes lawmakers more effective.
In the Lugar Center’s recent index for the 114th Congress (2015-'16), Kind ranked 19th among all House members, tops in the Wisconsin delegation. Sensenbrenner ranked 65th and Republican Reid Ribble (since retired) ranked 90th. Those were the state’s only three House members with positive scores.
Republican Sean Duffy ranked 250th, Democrat Mark Pocan 265th, Democrat Gwen Moore 355th and Republican Glenn Grothman 426th (placing Grothman second to last among the 427 House members who received a rating). The index does not include House speakers, so Republican Paul Ryan was not rated.
In the U.S. Senate, Republican Ron Johnson ranked 52nd and Democrat Tammy Baldwin ranked 75th.
The Lugar Center has published ratings for House members since 2013 and for senators since 1993.
Here are some highlights from the data:
- Kind (18th) and Sensenbrenner (59th) also ranked highly for bipartisanship in the 113th Congress (2013-'14). Ryan, who had not yet become speaker, ranked a little below average in the House for bipartisanship (244th). And the lowest-ranked members from Wisconsin for this two-year period were Duffy (319th), Moore (376th) and Pocan (390th).
- The Senate rankings suggest Johnson became much more bipartisan in the final two years of his first term than in his first four years. The Wisconsin Republican ranked 96th out of 98 ranked senators in 2011-'12 and 89th in 2013-'14 before rising to 52nd in 2015-'16. Democrat Baldwin, elected in 2012, ranked 77th in her first two years.
- Wisconsin has seen some of its most bipartisan lawmakers leave Congress in recent years. Republican Tom Petri ranked among the top 5% of the House for bipartisanship before he retired at the end of 2014. Republican Ribble ranked in the top quarter of the House before he retired at the end of 2016. And Democrat Herb Kohl routinely ranked in the top half of the Senate before he retired at the end of 2012.
Not surprisingly, the long-term trend in the Lugar Center’s data is a decline in bipartisanship, which has coincided with the growing polarization of Congress along party lines.
The lawmakers who receive the highest ratings for bipartisanship tend to be those in the middle of the right-left spectrum. The most bipartisan senator in the latest index is moderate Republican Susan Collins of Maine, and the lowest ranked senators are Vermont’s Bernie Sanders on the left and Texan Ted Cruz on the right.
Among Wisconsin lawmakers, Kind is arguably the most centrist politically and ranks by this measure as the most bipartisan.
But bipartisanship and moderation are not the same thing. A legislator can be at the right or left end of the political spectrum and have a bipartisan working style at the same time.
“It’s possible for very conservative and very progressive members to work at this,” says Dillar, of the Lugar Center.
Sensenbrenner was among roughly 70 House members cited by the Lugar Center as scoring well for bipartisanship while representing a very one-sided district politically.
In the center’s latest index, Democrat Pocan and Republican Johnson both ranked fairly close to the middle of their chambers for bipartisanship, even though neither is remotely centrist. Pocan is more liberal than 96% of his House colleagues and Johnson is more conservative than 87% of his Senate colleagues, according to one highly respected rating system of ideology in Congress.
But only Kind and Sensenbrenner, among Wisconsin lawmakers still in office, got a positive rating for bipartisanship in the last Congress.
One is a centrist Democrat whose congressional district has voted for both Donald Trump and Barack Obama in recent years.
The other is a staunch conservative whose district often produces the top Republican turnouts in the country.
“Bipartisanship,” it seems, is practically the only thing they have in common politically.
View this article online here.
Reid James Ribble (born April 5, 1956) is an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for Wisconsin's 8th congressional district from 2011 to 2017. He is a member of the Republican Party.
Early life, education, and business career
Ribble is a third generation Wisconsin resident. He was born in Neenah, Wisconsin. He graduated from Appleton East High School. After high school, he attended Cornerstone University.
Ribble was employed by the Ribble Group, his family's commercial and residential roofing company in Kaukauna, and became the company's president. He also served as president of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) from 2005 to 2006.
U.S. House of Representatives
See also: United States House of Representatives elections in Wisconsin, 2010 § District 8
Ribble defeated two other candidates to win the Republican primary in September. Ribble defeated Democratic incumbent Steve Kagen for Wisconsin's 8th congressional district on November 2, 2010 in the general election.
See also: United States House of Representatives elections in Wisconsin, 2012 § District 8
Ribble defeated Democratic nominee Jamie Wall, a business consultant.
See also: United States House of Representatives elections in Wisconsin, 2014 § District 8
Ribble defeated Democratic nominee Ron Gruett, a professor of physics and chemistry.
Ribble believed that we should utilize the “wide variety of available domestic sources to put our country on a path to energy independence.” Reid Ribble voted YES on barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. To become self-sufficient, Ribble wanted to expand the usage of both renewable and fossil fuels, so that the U.S. will not rely too much on any single source or foreign region. In June 2012, he voted for the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, which would increase oil and gas drilling in the U.S., and decrease environmental restrictions. In addition, Ribble also supported the Offshore Leasing Act in May 2011, and required “the Secretary of the Interior to conduct offshore oil and gas lease sales.”
Coming from a state with a great economic emphasis on agriculture, Ribble advocated for continued success in the farming sector of Wisconsin. He favored less government regulation on farming, and wanted to reform several Environmental Protection Agency restrictions, believing that “Wisconsin’s dairy farmers, livestock producers, and growers all will benefit from efforts to roll back EPA’s overreach.” He was a vocal member of the House Agriculture Committee, and has received a rating of 94% from the American Farm Bureau Federation as of 2011.
Ribble voted (March 2015) to support the Republican Study Committee budget. This was the most conservative of the various budget proposals considered by the House and was defeated by 294 to 132. Ribble went on to support the mainstream Republican budget proposed by Republican leadership, which was passed by the House.
- Health Care
Ribble strongly disagreed with the 2010 Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. In July 2012, he voted for the Repeals the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, stating that “instead of fixing the systematic flaws in our country’s healthcare system it makes it even more costly and dysfunctional.” He believed instead, that government should not be involved in the market and encourage greater competition between insurance companies.
- Social Security
In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner dated October 8, 2013, Ribble proposed sweeping changes to Social Security, including continuing and accelerating increases in the retirement age, implementing the chained CPI benefit cut to Social Security, and means testing for Social Security recipients. Though claiming that these changes were necessary to "save and secure this vital, popular program", Ribble's letter also proposed cutting the FICA withholding rate and reducing the cap on wages that are used to fund the Social Security Trust Fund which would reduce revenues for the Fund.
In June 2015, Congressman Ribble introduced the Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act. Congressman Jim Renacci co-sponsored the bill with Ribble. If signed into law, the bill would provide long-term funding to the Highway Trust Fund and federal programs to rebuild roads, highways and bridges. After introducing the bill, Ribble wrote in an opinion editorial on CNBC.com, " Our transportation infrastructure is ubiquitous, but it is not free."
On September 20, 2013, the House passed a bipartisan measure championed by Ribble. The measure, titled the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act, aims to manage commercial timberland and the yields each field can produce. Backers of the bill say that the bill would foster job growth in rural communities where the paper industry is prevalent, such as the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin.
On January 30, 2016, Ribble announced that he would not seek re-election for a fourth term to Congress, retiring based on a pledge that he would retire after his fourth term or eighth year in Congress, and expressed a desire to return to the private sector.
|Republican||Reid Ribble (incumbent)||198,874||55.95||+1.15|
|Republican||Reid Ribble (incumbent)||188,553||65.01|
- ^ ab"Guide to the New Congress"(PDF). CQ Roll Call. November 4, 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- ^Ribble's official House of Representatives profile
- ^Espino, J.E. (September 15, 2010). "Reid Ribble rolls in Republican primary, will face Democrat Steve Kagen for Congress". Appleton Post Crescent. Gannett. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
- ^ ab"Wisconsin Election Results". The New York Times.
- ^ ab"Energy". Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- ^"Issue Position: Energy Policy". Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- ^"HR 4480 – Domestic Energy and Jobs Act – Key Vote". Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- ^"HR 1230 – Offshore Leasing Act – Key Vote". Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- ^"Agriculture". Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- ^"Representative Reid J. Ribble's Biography". Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- ^"American Farm Bureau Federation – Positions". Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- ^Green Bay Press Gazette/Thomas Voting Reports March 29, 2015
- ^"Health Care". Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- ^"HR 6079 – Repeals the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 – Key Vote". Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- ^"Ribble Votes to Repeal President's Health Care Law". Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- ^"Issue Position: Health Care Reform". Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- ^Letter from Congressman Reid J. Ribble to House Speaker John Boehner, October 8, 2013 (PDF) , Accessed October 11, 2013
- ^"House duo introduce bill to fund infrastructure needs for 10 years | Ripon Advance News Service". riponadvance.com. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
- ^Wisconsin, Reid. "Fix our roads and bridges now: Rep. Ribble". Retrieved June 19, 2015.
- ^"Ribble's Restoring Health Forests for Healthy Communities Act passes in bipartisan vote". The Ripon Advance. September 25, 2013. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
- ^McCardle, Ellery (30 January 2016). "U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble not seeking re-election". WBAY-TV, Green Bay, Wisconsin. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- ^State of Wisconsin 2013–2014 Blue Book p. 886
- ^"Wisconsin Statewide Results General Election - November 4, 2014 Official Results". Wisconsin Secretary of State. November 4, 2014. Retrieved February 14, 2015.