It might get lost in today's media climate, but the United States Senate is teeming with hardworking men and women on both sides of the aisle who put in brutally long hours to try and get the job done.
Some may be plotting their own White House bids in 2020 or beyond. Some may be trying to move up the Senate leadership ladder. And some, believe it or not, may just be trying to deliver on campaign promises for their constituents and the country.
Here, questsin has compiled a list of 15 U.S. senators who are widely considered to be the hardest-working among their colleagues as evidenced by the high regard and esteem shown to them by their peers and voters.
1. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) — Grassley won a seventh Senate term in 2016 in a landslide over a Democrat who didn’t even try to attack his advanced age. That’s largely because, at 83, he still visits every county in Iowa annually (he calls it “the full Grassley”) and runs circles around aides barely half his age. He’ll need to pace himself in the Trump era, during which the Judiciary Committee chair burned the midnight oil to get Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch approved.
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2. Charles Schumer (D-New York) — He has his share of critics on Capitol Hill, but few can deny the intense work ethic of Schumer, who learned everything he knows about politics growing up on the streets of Brooklyn. Schumer managed to outhustle Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin last year, securing the support he needed to succeed Nevada Sen. Harry Reid as Democratic minority leader. Indeed, the Energizer bunny of the Senate just keeps going and going and going . . .
3. John McCain (R-Arizona) — “If it’s Sunday,” the inside-the-Beltway joke goes, “it’s John McCain on 'Meet the Press.'” McCain, 80, has been a front-liner in Washington since the Reagan era and, having won a sixth Senate term last year, he shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, he seems to have found new energy this year by reviving his “Maverick” persona, this time to challenge President Donald Trump on foreign affairs and national security issues. His tough stances might hit Trump where it counts most: McCain is the most popular member of Congress on Twitter with more than 2.2 million followers.
4. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) — Cotton is a U.S. Army veteran, Bronze Star medal winner, and Harvard Law graduate. Since moving into the Senate in 2015 from the U.S. House of Representatives, he has sponsored 76 pieces of legislation, in addition to 308 bills he co-sponsored. "His vigor in mastering the nuances of foreign policy and speaking schedule in articulating an internationalist view is well-known and often leaves younger staffers breathless," says questsin White House correspondent John Gizzi.
5. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) — During his career, Portman has developed a reputation of getting results, and his time in the Senate has only bolstered that image as he has used much of it to promote bipartisan legislation, with a third of those bills being signed into law by President Obama. Portman’s longtime legislative priorities have come to the fore in this session, such as removing barriers to job growth and the opioid crisis — two concerns that have also been championed by President Trump. The senator has already introduced several pieces of legislation in this session to address those two issues.
6. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) — Love him or hate him — and there are certainly plenty of folks in Washington who do — McConnell is widely considered the senator who sleeps the least, works the most, fights the hardest, and has the scars to prove it. The Senate majority leader has been fighting and working his whole life, dating back to his race for student council president at duPont Manual High School in Louisville — the first of many races he has won. “Although I did feel a bit sorry for him,” McConnell wrote of his opponent in his memoir “The Long Game.” “I’d simply outworked him.”
7. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) — Reed is a graduate of both Harvard Law and West Point and one of a few cadets in U.S. history to be elected to the Senate. Despite being one of the less visible senators, he is admired by colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Republican Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby once said of Reed: “He is to be commended for his tenacity, for his never-give-up.” And Sen. Schumer noted that “Jack does it in his quiet, steadfast way, and it is extremely effective,” referring to Reed’s deal-making and legislative style.
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8. John Thune (R-South Dakota) — In addition to serving on three Senate committees — Finance; Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the latter of which he serves as chairman — Thune claims membership in 32 separate caucuses that tackle a variety of issues and interests.
9. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) — As chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Johnson has a full grasp of the impacts of terrorism and immigration, which is why he’s sponsoring a new initiative to hand over the distribution of work visas to states to issue as they see fit. Along with House Republican Ken Buck of Colorado, Johnson sees this potential legislation as a game-changer in immigration reform while allowing states to meet their specific labor shortage needs. This massive policy work also dovetails with his chairmanship of Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European and Regional Security Cooperation
10. John Cornyn (R-Texas) — Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate and the party whip, has had his hands full corralling the party’s voting power as discord between establishment and Tea Party Republicans has threatened to fracture the building majority. This tension is most evident, perhaps, in the sometimes perceived divide between both Texas senators: Cornyn, the establishment bellwether, and Ted Cruz, the Tea Party firebrand. But, the senior Texas senator has shown he can lead the Republican Party to major victories in Senate, such as the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
11. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) — All you need to know about Graham's work ethic is illustrated by his jam-packed pre-Senate résumé: At 21, his parents died, leaving him to raise his younger sister on his own. He then earned his JD from the University of South Carolina School of Law, joined the United States Air Force, and went on to work as a private practice lawyer before serving one term in the South Carolina House of Representatives and four in the U.S. House. Though sometimes criticized as being one of the more liberal Republicans in the Senate, Graham has remained uncompromising in his willingness to reach across the aisle to get the business of government done.
12. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) — McCaskill learned a long time ago that being a woman in politics required her to work harder. “I found that if you are informed and work hard, you can earn credibility,” she wrote in “Plenty Ladylike: A Memoir,” while describing her service in the Missouri Legislature. “I went from being the young blonde with all the hair to being someone whom the senior members approached.” In the Senate, McCaskill has earned a reputation as someone who pulls no punches, speaks her mind and, most importantly, gets things done.
13. Susan Collins (R-Maine) — Despite initially being shut out of the Senate Republican working group on healthcare reform, Collins continues to work on the Patient Freedom Act with Louisiana Republican Sen. Dr. Bill Cassidy and other Republican co-sponsors, which they introduced in the beginning of 2017. She hopes that she can attract moderate Democrats to the table to hammer out a comprehensive replacement for the Affordable Care Act.
14. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) — One of the more prolific senators, Blumenthal sponsors an average of 70 pieces of legislation a year since his move to the Senate in 2011. Additionally, he has co-signed more than 1,700 bills written by his colleagues. Blumenthal has been quite vocal about pursuing an investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email scandal as well as an independent investigation into Russia’s possible role in the 2016 election.
15. Mike Lee (R-Utah) — Lee is a member of the Joint Economic Committee; Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Committee on Energy and Natural Resources; and the Judiciary Committee. He chairs the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights in the Judiciary and the Water and Power Subcommittee in the Energy and Natural Resources.
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