Offering insight into how elective officials voted throughout 2017 to uphold key civil rights protections, the NAACP just released its latest (pdf) Civil Rights Federal Legislative Report Card.
"The 2017 report card underscores a growing divide in Congress of those who are committed to protecting people's rights and those more interested in protecting the rights of the rich and powerful," said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP.
Among the votes that formed the basis for the report card were the Senate vote to confirm Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General and the House vote to repeal the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Pertinent legislation that both chambers voted on included overturning an Obama order requiring federal contractors to comply with federal labor and non-discrimination laws; overturning regulations establishing public school accountability for historically marginalized groups including LGBTQ students, children with disabilities, and racial and ethnic testimonies; voting to repeals and replace Obamacare; and the passage of the tax bill.
While 44 senators received an "A" grade—meaning their votes on "bread and butter" civil rights legislation always aligned with NAACP's position. Fifty-one senators received an "F"—meaning their votes aligned with the civil rights group's positions 59 percent of the time or less.
In the House of Representatives, 233 members flunked, while 164 got an "A."
Among the senators getting an F: Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Marco Rubio of Florida, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Orrin Hatch of Utah.
In the House, F-getters include Devin Nunes of California, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Drew Ferguson of Georgia, John Shimkus of Illinois, Steve King of Iowa, Justin Amash of Michigan, Lloyd Smucker of Pennsylvania, and Lamar Smith of Texas.
"The abundance of 'As' and 'Fs' is a powerful reminder that without continued vigilance, the freedoms that we've fought so hard to attain, can and will become a thing of the past. We will not let that happen," Johnson added.
The civil rights organization has issued its legislative report card since 1914.
"Ours is a practiced, nonpartisan, and quantitative assessment meant to educate the public and urge politicians to do better when it comes to advancing civil rights," said Hilary O. Shelton, director of the Washington bureau and senior vice president for advocacy and policy at NAACP.