Editor’s note: an earlier version of this story contained an incorrect reference to Brindisi as a Republican. He is, and always has been, a Democrat. We regret the error.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The two congressmen representing Oswego County are among the most bipartisan in Washington, according to a recent report, which scored Rep. Anthony Brindisi as the most bipartisan lawmaker in the nation’s capital.
No member of Congress was better at reaching across the aisle than Brindisi, D-Utica, according to Common Ground Committee (CGC), a nonprofit group that describes itself as “devoted to improving public discourse in politics,”
Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus, ranked ninth, out of 535 currently seated voting members.
Throughout their two years alongside one another in office, Katko and Brindisi — despite being in opposing parties — have frequently been seen together in their respective districts, working together on issues that impact the central New York region.
Both lawmakers are part of the so-called Problem Solvers Caucus and have split with their respective parties on a handful of meaningful votes — most recently in voting against the latest House Democrats COVID-19 stimulus package. Both men said the proposed Dem federal aid legislation was, fittingly, not bipartisan enough.
Brindisi said it was an honor to be recognized for his efforts to bring civility and compromise to Washington. The Utica Democrat previously served in the New York Assembly before challenging and defeating now-former U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney. Tenney is again the Republican nominee in the 22nd Congressional District and the two will meet again at the ballot box Nov. 3.
Working together and finding common ground comes naturally to upstate New Yorkers, Brindisi said.
“During this difficult time in our country, partisanship and petty politics often get in the way of elected officials doing the right thing,” Brindisi said this week. “By working with anyone — Democrats, Republicans, Independents — Ive been able to cut through the Washington gridlock to get things done.”
The Common Ground Scorecard is aimed at measuring the willingness and ability of a politician to seek points of agreement and solutions on policy issues through listening and productive conversation. Politicians are ranked using data from various sources, including the Bipartisan Policy Center, and receive scores up to 110 points.
“We can never hope to solve the numerous issues facing our nation if we dont put aside partisanship,” Erik Olsen, co-founder of CGC, said in a statement. “Congressman Brindisis score shows that, despite all that divides us, there are still champions for common ground solutions in Washington. We hope that other lawmakers will follow his lead.”
Brindisi pointed to his work increasing access to mental health care for military service members and veterans, as well as a series of bills that made it to President Trumps desk in his first term, as tangible results of bipartisanship. He also noted whether its pandemic relief negotiations or trade agreements, working together is the way to get things done.
“It shouldnt matter if an idea comes from a Democrat or a Republican, all that should matter is if it is a good idea and thats the mentality I bring to Congress each and every day,” Brindisi said.
Only one other lawmaker, Rep. Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan, matched Brindisis high score of 100 out of 110. Katko earned 80 points, and Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican who represents New Yorks Southern Tier, rounded out the top scorers with a 72.
The overall average score on the Common Ground Scorecard is a 26, and CGC considers those scoring 60 or higher “champions” of seeking and finding common ground.
Katko also called the CGC recognition an honor, saying Congress is “more dysfunctional than ever,” with rhetoric from both sides dominating the narrative.
“Especially during the ongoing pandemic, we need to work across party lines,” Katko said, adding bipartisan efforts helped deliver much needed personal protective equipment and testing supplies, along with direct relief for hospitals, small businesses and families. “This approach to governing is critical to moving our country forward toward a stronger economy.”
Katko, like Brindisi, is also facing an election rematch this year, with Democrat Dana Balter again the Democratic Party nominee.
Election Day is Nov. 3.