WASHINGTON — National Journal magazine released its annual rankings Thursday of the most conservative and liberal lawmakers, and, no surprise, both of Oklahoma's senators were among the most conservative, with Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, ranking fifth and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, 13th.
What was surprising was that freshman Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, didn't place in the top tier of conservative House members. In fact, the tea party lawmaker finished as the 115th most conservative, way behind Reps. Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville, (33rd) and James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City (76th).
Groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project said they wouldn't support Lankford for the open U.S. Senate seat this year because he wasn't conservative enough, but appeared ready to back Bridenstine, who decided not to enter the race.
The National Journal analyzes dozens of votes to develop its conservative and liberal scores on economic, social and foreign issues, but acknowledged that some votes may not be easy to categorize.
This explanation from the magazine may sum up the matter:
“For instance, consider the hypothetical example of a vote in the House on cutting domestic spending. Let's say the bill passed with overwhelming support from House Republicans and overwhelming opposition from House Democrats.
“A vote for the bill would be counted as conservative and a vote against the bill would be counted as liberal. But let's say a handful of House Republican conservatives voted against the bill on the grounds that the budget cuts didn't go far enough. In so doing, they voted against most conservatives and with most liberals. Their votes would be counted as liberal because they voted with liberals.”
That may also sum up why many lawmakers complain about the various rankings they get.
To finish up the National Journal rankings, Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, was ranked as the 166th most conservative in the 435-member House, and Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, was 213th.
During prayer breakfast, president says he dearly loves Coburn
President Barack Obama gave a shout-out Thursday to Sen. Tom Coburn during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.
“And there is one colleague of mine who is missing today — a great friend of mine who I came into the Senate with, Senator Tom Coburn,”
“Tom is going through some tough times right now, but I love him dearly even though we're from different parties. ... He is a good man and I'm keeping him and his family in my prayers all the time. So just a shout-out to my good friend, Tom
Coburn, who is being treated for prostate cancer, is resigning at the end of the congressional session.
The Muskogee Republican was working on legislation to reform the U.S. Postal Service on Thursday morning and could not attend the breakfast.
At the same breakfast, Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, told a story about Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa.
“We make quite an unlikely pair,” Shah said. “At one point we were traveling in rural Ethiopia with several close friends when our van got stuck in the mud. After a pause, the senator generously suggested that everyone under 70 should get out and push.
“The next thing I knew I was covered in mud — and once again because of Congress.”