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The Riehl World: Issa’s 2016 Report Card Revealed

By Richard Riehl

The day after Rep. Darrell Issa cast his vote in favor of the GOP’s 2017 American Health Care Act, I received his first 2018 campaign mailing, disguised as a “Constituent Survey” to qualify for free postage.

There’s no mention of the Congressman’s position on healthcare in his mailing. Instead, he trots out his GovTrack.com’s 2016 Report Card to prove he kept his promises of “Effective Leadership. Real Results” in the 114th session of Congress. GovTrack.us is “a project of Civic Impulse, LLC, a completely independent entity wholly owned by its operator and receives no funding in any form from outside organizations.”

Like a kid who tries to keep his parents from seeing his entire report card, Issa attempts to do the same with his constituents.

The 49th District Congressman claims he was the “most effective lawmaker in the San Diego area” in the last session of Congress and tied for second in the entire California delegation. But the GovTrack report did not rate his legislative effectiveness, as Issa claims. It simply reported the number of bills (4) he introduced that made it out of committee to the floor for further consideration.

Here’s the GovTrack website disclaimer: “A higher or lower number below doesn’t necessarily make this legislator any better or worse, or more or less effective, than other Members of Congress. We present these statistics for you to understand the quantitative aspects of Issa’s legislative career and make your own judgements based on what activities you think are important.”

I was a high school teacher in my former life. After reviewing GovTrack’s entire report card for Congressman Issa, I couldn’t resist translating its statistics into letter grades. His constituents, like a kid’s parents, need to see the whole thing.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. Issa has been in office for 15 years. His job performance score in each of the following categories has been compared to the scores of 184 other members of Congress who have been in office for at least 10 years. In his personal version, Issa compared himself to the 52 members of the California delegation only.
  2. Issa’s job performance in each category has been converted to a percentile rank of the entire group of the longest-serving members of Congress.
  3. His job performance has been assigned a letter grade for each category, according to a standard high school grading scale, followed by his cumulative GPA.

A =90 to 100         4

B =80 to 89 3

C =70 to 79 2

D =60 to 69 1

F =Below 60         0


Number of bills moved out of committee to the floor for further consideration

25th of 185

86th percentile

B       3


Co-sponsoring bills introduced by other members

155th of 185

16th percentile

F       0


Writing Bipartisan Bills

28th of 185

85th percentile

B       3


Government Transparency

24th of 185

87th percentile

B       3


Joining bipartisan bills

Of the 155 bills that Issa cosponsored, 18% were introduced by a legislator who was not a Republican, making him among the least bipartisan members of Congress.

114th of 185

38th percentile

F       0


Leadership score, This looks at who is cosponsoring whose bills. A higher score shows a greater ability to get cosponsors on bills.

66th of 185,

64th percentile

D       1


Bills introduced

64th of 185

65th percentile

D       1


Working with Senate

60th of 185,

68th percentile

D+     1


Missed votes

79th of 185

57th percentile

F       0


Overall GPA 1.33

D+


Teacher’s comment:

Darrell likes being a leader but is often absent from class, exaggerates his accomplishments, and doesn’t work well with others.


Richard J. Riehl is a Carlsbad, California resident, retired university administrator, and award-winning columnist for the former daily newspaper, the North County Times.
Richard writes a blog titled The Riehl World

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