New Report: Republican-Controlled Senate Renders 116th Congress as Least Productive in History

With mail-in voting underway and early in-person voting coming up in many states, Common Cause today released its 2020 Democracy Scorecard to help voters evaluate the records of their members of Congress.

The 2020 Democracy Scorecard provides data on every current member of the House of Representatives and Senate based on their votes for and co-sponsorship of key democracy reform bills, such as the historic For the People Act (HR 1). If enacted, the reforms would limit the influence of big money in our elections, end gerrymandering, and make it easier and safer to vote.

“What the 2020 Democracy Scorecard makes plain is the blatant disregard for democracy reforms in the Senate,” said Aaron Scherb, director of legislative affairs for Common Cause. “The House of Representatives passed nearly 10 democracy reform bills, often with bipartisan support, this session, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked debate and mark-ups on all of these bills and refused to allow a vote.”

“In fact, the Senate’s inaction has the 116th Congress on track to be the least productive in history, with just one percent of the bills becoming law,” said Scherb, author of the 2020 Democracy Scorecard.

To ensure all Members of Congress got a fair evaluation in the 2020 Democracy Scorecard, Common Cause sent each congressional office four letters listing the bills included in this year’s Scorecard to make sure every member of Congress knew which bills he or she was being evaluated on. Since these letters were sent, a combined total of more than 150 cosponsors have been added to these collective bills so voters can know what their Members of Congress are doing to protect our democracy.

According to the 2020 Democracy Scorecard, more than 50 House Members supported critical democracy reforms 100 percent of the time, and 16 Senators earned at least a 90 percent, which are significant improvements over previous years’ Democracy Scorecards.

Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) was the highest scoring Republican on the 2020 Democracy Scorecard with two votes related to the impeachment of President Trump. The states with strong democracy delegations included:

  • California: Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Democratic Representatives Julia Brownley, Salud Carbajal, Judy Chu, Gil Cisneros, TJ Cox, Mark DeSaulnier, Anna Eshoo, John Garamendi, Jimmy Gomez, Jared Huffman, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, Ted Lieu, Alan Lowenthal, Jimmy Panetta, Harley Rouda, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Jackie Speier, and Norma Torres all scored 100 percent.
  • Illinois: Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Democratic Representatives Sean Casten, Jesús “Chuy” García, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Jan Schakowsky all scored 100 percent.
  • Minnesota: Senator Amy Klobuchar scored 100 percent, and Senator Tina Smith scored a 95 percent.
  • New Mexico: Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Democratic Representative Debra Haaland scored 100 percent.
  • Oregon: Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Democratic Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio scored 100 percent.
“We urge all voters to check the record and work to hold power accountable by making the phones ring in Washington, their state capitals, and local government offices to ensure that government will truly be of, by, and for the people,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause.
The 2020 Democracy Scorecard includes laws that would:
  • Overturn the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision
  • Strengthen our voting laws by updating provisions of the Voting Rights Act gutted by the Shelby v. Holder ruling
  • Ensure that all residents are counted in the census
  • Provide automatic registration so that voters are added to voter rolls when they interact with state agencies
  • Create independent citizens’ commissions to draw new legislative districts to end gerrymandering and make sure voters choose their representatives, not the other way around
  • Enhance transparency requirements for political contributions and spending
  • Break the power of big money in our elections by incentivizing small-dollar contributions and crack down on foreign influence in our election
  • Tighten the prohibition on political spending by foreign entities
To view the 2020 Democracy Scorecard online, go to:
As part of its robust election work, Common Cause publishes a candidate survey on democracy reform and runs a nonpartisan election protection program. To see where candidates in your state stand on democracy reform, visit To volunteer for Election Protection by serving as a nonpartisan poll monitor, social media monitor and text banker, visit