In consultation with national anti-poverty experts in 20 different fields, we selected the most significant votes on poverty issues in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in calendar year 2014. The votes we selected cover a wide range of subject areas, including housing, budget and tax, employment rights, health care, immigrants, tax credits, consumer protection, food and nutrition, legal services, child care, workforce, education, unemployment benefits and civil rights.
The members of the House are scored based on 20 selected votes and Senators are scored based on 7 selected votes (there were only seven significant poverty-related votes in 2014). If a member did not cast a “yes” or “no” vote on a particular measure (for example, if the member was absent), that vote was not considered in determining the member’s score. Each vote is given equal weight. We did not score members who did not vote enough times for the score to be a fair assessment of their performance (denoted by an “I” for incomplete) or who were not in office at the end of the calendar year.
We ranked 425 of 435 members of the House of Representatives, each of whom voted on at least 14 of the 20 votes we selected. We ranked all 100 Senators, each of whom voted on at least 4 of the 7 votes we selected. Where multiple votes were taken on the same legislation, we used the vote that was the most significant in the disposition of the legislation, e.g., final passage, adoption of an amendment, a motion to invoke cloture, another procedural motion, etc.
The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law provides national leadership in advancing laws and policies that secure justice to improve the lives and opportunities of people living in poverty.
Access to justice and equal opportunity under the law are fundamental American values. We ensure that laws provide low-income people access to adequate health care, decent housing, a safety net, and opportunities to achieve their full potential. We advocate for positive policy and systems changes on a range of issues, including asset building, budget and taxes, community justice, economic justice, education, health care, housing, and challenges facing women and girls. Most importantly, we ensure that the voices of marginalized people are heard.
The Shriver Center achieves its mission through two programs. Our Advocacy Program works collaboratively with community organizations, service providers, legislators, and other allies to pursue justice for low-income clients. Our Advocate Resources and Training Program trains and connects equal justice providers nationwide to strengthen the ability of these advocates and their organizations to help drive systems change.
The Shriver Center welcomes media inquiries regarding the Poverty Scorecard or our other efforts to advance social and economic justice for low-income people. Contact Michelle Nicolet at 312.368.2675 for more information.