Rates Congress

Every year National Taxpayers Union (NTU) rates U.S. Representatives and Senators on their actual votes--every vote that affects taxes, spending, and debt. Unlike most organizations that publish ratings, we refuse to play the "rating game" of focusing on only a handful of congressional votes on selected issues. The NTU voting study is the fairest and most accurate guide available on congressional spending. It is a completely unbiased accounting of votes.

  • Click here view the NTU Rates Congress Results for the 2nd Session of the 114th Congress.
  • You may view the 2016 list of Taxpayers' Friends in the House and Senate here.
  • To view the list of votes used to establish the NTU Ratings, please click here.
  • NTU's press release for the 2016 Rating is found here.

NTU has no partisan axe to grind. All members of Congress are treated the same regardless of political affiliation. Our only constituency is the overburdened American taxpayer. Grades are given impartially, based on the Taxpayer Score.




Taxpayer Score

The Taxpayer Score measures the strength of support for reducing spending and opposing higher taxes. In general, a higher score is better because it means a member of Congress voted to spend less money.

The Taxpayer Score can range between zero and 100. We do not expect anyone to score a 100, nor has any legislator ever scored a perfect 100 in the multi-year history of the comprehensive NTU scoring system. A high score does not mean that the member of Congress was opposed to all spending or all programs. High-scoring members have indicated that they would vote for many programs if the amount of spending were lower or if the budget were balanced. A member who wants to increase spending on some programs can achieve a high score if he or she votes for offsetting cuts in other programs. A zero score would indicate that the member of Congress approved every spending proposal and opposed every pro-taxpayer reform.

NTU believes a score qualifying for a grade of "A" indicates the member is one of the strongest supporters of responsible tax and spending policies. We are pleased to give these members of Congress our "Taxpayers' Friend Award."

A score qualifying for a grade of "B" represents a "good" voting record on controlling spending and taxes. A "B" grade indicates that the member voted for taxpayers most of the time, but slightly less than those who attained the grade of "A."

A score qualifying for a grade of "C" represents a minimally acceptable voting record on controlling taxes and spending. To qualify for a grade of "C" a member must have a Taxpayer Score of at least 50 percent. While such a score may be "satisfactory," there is clearly room for improvement.

We also issue pluses and minuses for the grades of "B" and "C" in order to better recognize the differences in the voting records of members with these grades.

A score qualifying for a grade of "D" indicates the member has a "poor" voting record on controlling taxes and spending.

A score significantly below average qualifies for a grade of "F." This failing grade places the member into the "Big Spender" category.


NTU's federal budget experts assigned a weight to each vote ranging from 0 to 100. A low weight was assigned to votes that had relatively little effect on the size of the federal budget, while a high weight was assigned to votes with the most significant effect on federal spending.

Weights were based solely on the relative effect of each vote on the total amount of federal spending. Consideration was given to the political effect of a vote on the future federal spending, even though relatively little spending might be immediately at issue. A vote with average importance should have a weight close to 10.

Scores were computed by dividing the weighted total of votes cast against higher spending (or taxes or for lower spending or taxes), by the weighted total number of spending and tax issues on which the member of Congress voted. Average scores for each state were also computed using the weighted total of votes cast by each state delegation.

In computing these scores, we included only those votes on which the member actually voted for or against a bill, resolution, or amendment. Paired votes, announced positions, and absences were excluded. Because some members were absent frequently (or otherwise failed to vote yes or no), their scores, based on relatively few votes, may not accurately reflect spending attitudes. The members falling into this category are noted.