Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) doesn’t just have the title to wield power — he’s also got the rankings to prove it, according to data released Monday by Knowlegis, a research firm that focuses on Congress.
The Congressional Power Rankings for 2008 placed Reid in the No. 1 spot based on more than 20 factors including media coverage, the amount of money raised by political action committee and the number of bills cosponsored during 2007. Among Senators, Edward Kennedy (D-N.Y.) was in second place, followed by Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
The presidential candidates were a little farther down the list, with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) grabbing the No. 9 spot in front of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who came in at No. 10, and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who registered at No. 11. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) was the top-ranking Republican, at No. 7.
On the House side, the report found Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to be the most powerful Member — pointing out her significant campaign contributions. Behind Pelosi was Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), followed by Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), who’s domain over the tax code makes him a power player. Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) was the top-ranking Republican in the House, coming in at No. 6.
Knowlegis has been ranking Members of Congress since 2005 by measuring such items as quality of committee assignments and success in passing legislation. The rankings assess which Members have the best resources to get tasks accomplished.
This is the first year that the research firm incorporated the influence of earmark data on legislators’ power scores by considering both the amount secured in earmarks and the number of earmarks obtained. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) ranked as the No. 1 Senator in the earmarks category, and in the House, Hoyer took the lead. Cochran is the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, while Hoyer is a former appropriator. Some high-ranking members — Boehner and McCain — generally have not pursued earmarks.
First-term Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) came in last on the overall power ranking list, with Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) only one place above the bottom. Barrasso filled the seat in 2007 after the death of Sen. Craig Thomas (R).
In the House, Reps. William Jefferson (D-La.) and Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) were second-to-last and last, respectively. Both are under indictment.