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By Sabine Martin September 27, 2022

Cindy Axne ranks high in bipartisan action

If Your Time is short

  • U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne ranked 20th among 435 voting U.S. House members in The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University’s Bipartisan Index. The index is based on objective data.
  • GovTrack reported that 17 of the 36 bills and resolutions Axne introduced during the 2019-21 session had a co-sponsor from a different party. 

Facing a re-election battle, Democratic U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, tweeted on Sept. 18 that she is one of the most bipartisan members of Congress and Iowa’s most bipartisan member. 

"I don’t care what letter is next to your name — I’ll work with anyone to get results for Iowans. That’s why I was named Iowa’s most bipartisan member of Congress by @TheLugarCenter."

She’s stated this before on Twitter, on July 11, for example. Plus, her congressional office issued a news release June 7 that said: "I’m pleased to share that for the second year in a row I’ve been named the most bipartisan member of the Iowa congressional delegation by the Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy." 

Axne is running for re-election for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District against Republican Sen. Zach Nunn.  

We looked at the Bipartisan Index Rankings, a partnership of the Lugar Center and Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy, which ranked Axne as 20th among 435 voting U.S. House members in the most recent 2021 data released May 2. 

Comparisons show that Axne’s Index score of 1.11054 is slightly higher than that of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who scored at 1.07545. The higher the number, the better the score on bipartisanship.

Dan Diller, policy director at The Lugar Center, wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan that the Senate and House data sets aren’t perfectly comparable. But, Diller said, it is fair to state that Axne is more bipartisan than Grassley, based on her record. 

"A more valid point of comparison that clearly backs Axne’s claim is that she ranks 20th out of 435 House members, so she is in the 95th percentile of the House. Grassley ranks 12th out of 98 Senators, so he is roughly in the 88th percentile of the Senate," Diller wrote. 

"Axne’s 20th ranking in the House is the highest by far among the Iowa House delegation. The closest to Axne is Rep. Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, who ranks 86th. Diller wrote that Miller-Meeks’ score suggests she is outperforming the House historical average. 

We previously ruled Sen. Joni Ernst as Mostly True when she stated she is one of the most bipartisan senators in the Senate in the last 25 years in 2020. The Index had ranked her 34th out of 98 senators in 2019. Most recent data shows Ernst ranked 40th on the same bipartisanship Index –– with a 0.02598 score that is lower than Axne’s.  

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Other measures exist. The FiveThirtyEight’s tally of House and the Senate votes with or against the president shows that Axne votes in line with Democratic President Joe Biden’s position 100 percent of the time. 

A different bipartisanship ideology score through GovTrack reported Axne in the 80th percentile for bipartisan bill co-sponsorship during the 116th Congress from 2019-21. Seventeen of Axne’s 36 bills and resolutions introduced during the session had a cosponsor from a different party. 

GovTrack’s methodology presents objective quantitative statistics for users to understand Axne’s legislation and make their own judgments.

Diller wrote that The Index measures the frequency of each member of Congress co-sponsoring substantive bills introduced by an opposing party and the frequency with which they secure co-sponsors for their own bills from among the other party. 

"For example, Joe Manchin is judged by 538 to have voted with President Biden 89 percent of the time, which sounds like a very high score," he wrote. "But it is actually the lowest score among Democratic Senators.

"This is the second year in a row Rep. Axne has been recognized as the most bipartisan member of the Iowa delegation," Paige Godden, Axne campaign communications director, wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan. "In 2021, Rep. Axne was also recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for her bipartisanship."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave Axne a Spirit of Enterprise award for bipartisan work in 2020 and ranked her as the No. 2 most bipartisan in Iowa’s delegation with a 91 percent bipartisanship score. The chamber awarded the designation to 210 other U.S. House members and 49 U.S. Senate members. Axne did not make the chamber’s 2021 list of Jefferson-Hamilton Award winners for bipartisanship.

Our ruling

Axne tweeted in September that she is Iowa’s most bipartisan member of Congress.

She ranks 20th among 435 voting U.S. House but has the highest bipartisanship record among the Iowa House and Senate delegation. 

However, FiveThirtyEight’s legislator vote tracker slates Axne taking action in line with Biden, a Democratic president, 100 percent of the time. And, comparing House and Senate bipartisanship scores is an inexact science.

Despite her strong action toward Biden’s policies, we rate Axne’s statement as Mostly True because of her high bipartisanship rating based on objective data.  

Our Sources

Email exchange with Dan Diller, Policy Director at The Lugar Center

Email exchange with Jay Branegan, Senior Fellow at The Lugar Center

Email exchange with Paige Godden, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne campaign

Email exchange with U.S. Chamber of Commerce press office

FiveThirtyEight, Does Your Member Of Congress Vote With Or Against Biden?

GovTrack, 2020 Report Cards: Ideology score, Jan. 30, 2021

GovTrack, 2020 Report Cards: Writing Bipartisan Bills, Jan. 30, 2021

PolitiFact Iowa, Bipartisanship rankings show Joni Ernst toward the top by Rylee Wilson and Rachel Schilke

The Lugar Center, 2021 House Scores 

The Lugar Center, 2019 Senate Scores

The Lugar Center, Lifetime Senate Scores

U.S. Chamber of Commerce, How They Voted Cindy Axne Scorecard, 2020

U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Bipartisan and Leadership Awards, 2021

U.S. Congresswoman Cindy Axne,, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Honors Rep. Axne with ‘Spirit of Enterprise’ Award, June 22, 2020

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Cindy Axne ranks high in bipartisan action

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