The group behind the Conservative Political Action Committee released its annual analysis of Congress’ voting records and slammed Senate Republicans, giving Minority Leader Mitch McConnell the lowest conservative rating of his 38-year career.
Through the coronavirus-fueled spending spree, Democrats were often “aided by RINO/establishment Republicans, many of them Old Bulls who announced their retirement,” chairman Matt Schlapp wrote, calling it “shameful” that a “$1.7 trillion Omnibus spending bill passed two days before Christmas with Republican leadership’s acquiescence.”
The American Conservative Union’s ratings for 2022 reveal a sharp contrast between the leadership of McConnell, who received a 56%, and Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who received a 91%. Scott led the National Republican Senatorial Committee and repeatedly sparred with McConnell, while cultivating his own group of emerging leaders that called themselves the “breakfast club.”
Breakfast Club members included Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana, who both received a perfect 100% rating from CPAC. (NBC reported that Braun is an “unofficial” member of the club.) Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky also received a perfect score. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, another member of the Breakfast Club, received an honorable mention at 97%.
McConnell’s lieutenants in the current Republican leadership included Senate Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota, who received an 81%, Conference Chairman Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, at 89%, Policy Committee Chair Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, at 74%, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, who was vice chair of the Republican Conference despite having a conservative score of only 53%.
McConnell is 81 years old and joined the Senate in 1985. Scott is 70 and joined the Senate in 2019 after serving as governor of Florida. McConnell’s ACU score was down eight points from 2021.
Thomas Bradbury, who helped craft the ratings for the American Conservative Union, said who is in leadership is “really important” in part because the tone for what it means to be conservative is set “from the top down.”
In the House, the members who received a perfect score were Reps. Michael Cloud and Chip Roy from Texas, Bob Good of Virginia, Jody Hice and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Debbie Lesko of Arizona, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Mary Miller of Illionis, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Matt Rosendale of Montana, and Greg Steube of Florida.
The average Senate Republican got a 78%, while the average House Republican got an 80%.
Moderate Republican senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine received 43% and 38%, respectively.
The lowest-scoring House Republican was Brian Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent from Pennslyvania, at 24%. Second-worst was John Katko of New York, at 26%. Third-worst was former Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed to the anti-Trump January 6 committee and who is now a CNN contributor.
The scores were based on congressmen’s votes on key bills, including ones that CPAC opposed and described as federalizing elections, bailing out the postal service, and nominating Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.
The list also included votes on bills that CPAC supported, including ones they described as blocking vaccine mandates, killing earmarks, and sending billions to Ukraine without oversight.
The Senate was split 50-50 among the parties in 2022, meaning that Republicans had little chance of passing a bill unless all of them were united.
Dozens of Senate Republicans voted for a “continuing resolution” that CPAC said gave Democrats leverage by giving them another week to negotiate a spending deal before a government shutdown kicked in.
CPAC’s ratings have proven crucial to determining whether Republicans voted the way they campaigned. The group also rates state lawmakers, and The Daily Wire used those voting scores for a multi-part analysis of state legislatures that found that, shockingly, the more of a majority that Republicans had in a state, the more moderate its Republican lawmakers behaved once in office.
Montana Republican lawmakers, for example, behaved more moderately than California Republicans, essentially just putting an R behind their name so they could win the election.
In some states, an establishment of moderate Republicans allegedly retaliated against conservative members, with the South Carolina legislature booting “Freedom Caucus” members from the Republican caucus.