NTU's federal budget experts assigned a weight to each vote ranging from 1 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.