Wis. congressional Democrats ace, Republicans flunk civil rights test in 2013

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Wisconsin Democrats Tammy Baldwin, Mark Pocan, Gwen Moore and Ron Kind received perfect scores in the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights ratings for the first session of the 113th Congress.

The Republicans in the state's congressional delegation didn't score so well: U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble received zeros. U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy, Paul Ryan and Jim Sensenbrenner received scores of 8 percent. U.S. Rep. Tom Petri received a 15.

Called the Voting Record, the scorecard has been released for every session of Congress since 1969 by the coalition, which includes more than 200 members.

For the scorecard, the coalition graded elected federal officials on 13 votes in the House and 19 votes in the Senate that dealt with civil rights protections, jobs, the budget, education, immigration reform, presidential nominations, violence against women and other issues.

The coalition's report, released this week, began with a critical look at the first session of the 113th Congress, one of the least productive on record: "Even routine business — such as keeping government doors open, raising the debt ceiling, and confirming highly qualified judicial and executive branch nominees — fell victim to obstruction, brinkmanship and political posturing. On more complex issues like jobs, housing and immigration, the obstacles were even greater. As a result, the 113th Congress was one of the least productive on record — and one of the least popular — as Congress’ approval rating plummeted to an all-time low of 9 percent and Obama’s approval ratings sank to their lowest point as well."

Still, the group's executive vice president, Nancy Zirkin, expressed optimism for a better 2014.

"In the wake of Senate rules reform and a softening of opposition to health care and budget bills, we’re hopeful that 2013 marked the nadir of congressional brinkmanship. Bipartisan action on the Voting Rights Amendment Act and on important criminal justice reform indicates that we may have turned a corner entering 2014.”

On the Web…

Check out the bills and the votes at http://www.civilrights.org/advocacy/voting/113/