Poverty Scorecard
Rating members of congress

Methodology

In consultation with national anti-poverty experts in 20 different fields, we selected the most significant votes on poverty-related issues taken in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in calendar year 2015. The votes we selected cover a wide range of policy areas—including housing, budget and tax, employment rights, public benefits, environmental justice, immigrant justice, health care and education from early childhood to college. Outcomes of votes related to these policy areas have the potential to significantly impact the lives of people who live in poverty.

The members of the House are scored based on 18 selected votes, and Senators are scored based on 21 votes. If a member did not cast a “yes” or “no” vote on a particular measure (for example, if the member was absent), that vote was not included in calculating that member’s score. Each vote is given equal weight. We did not score legislators who did not vote enough times for the score to be a fair assessment of their performance (denoted by an “I” for incomplete) or who were not in office at the end of the calendar year.

We ranked 432 of 435 members of the House of Representatives, each of whom voted on at least 12 of the 18 votes we selected. We ranked all 100 Senators, each of whom voted on at least 14 of the 21 votes we selected. Where multiple votes were taken on the same legislation, we used the vote that was the most significant in the disposition of the legislation, e.g., final passage, adoption of an amendment, a motion to invoke cloture, or a motion to waive all budgetary discipline with respect to an amendment.

About the Shriver Center

The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law provides national leadership in advancing laws and policies that secure justice to improve the lives and opportunities of people living in poverty.

Access to justice and equal opportunity under the law are fundamental American values. We ensure that laws and policies provide low-income people access to adequate health care, decent housing, a safety net, and opportunities to achieve their full potential. We advocate for positive policy and systems change on a range of issues, including asset building, budget and taxes, community justice, economic justice, education, healthcare, housing, and challenges facing women and girls. Most importantly, we ensure that the voices of marginalized people are heard.

The Shriver Center achieves its mission through two core programs. Our Advocacy Program works collaboratively with community organizations, service providers, legislators, and other allies to pursue justice for low-income clients. Our Advocate Resources and Training Program trains and connects equal justice providers nationwide to strengthen the ability of these advocates and their organizations to help drive systems change.