Tech Law Journal Congressional Scorecard 1998

Top 10 Senators for High Tech

(January 5, 1999)  Tech Law Journal ranked the top ten Senators for high tech as follows.





Party Age
1 Conrad Burns 100 Montana R 63
2 Ron Wyden 100 Oregon D 49
3 Spencer Abraham 80 Michigan R 46
4 Robert Bennett 80 Utah R 65
5 John Ashcroft 80 Missouri R 56
6 Patrick Leahy 100 Vermont D 58
7 Patty Murray 100 Washington D 48
8 Larry Craig 100 Idaho R 53
9 Frank Murkowski 80 Alaska R 65
10 Trent Lott 80 Mississippi R 57

This ranking is a part of the Tech Law Journal Congressional Scorecard 1998 series.   All 100 Senators and all 435 Representatives were ranked on a 0 to 100 scale on the basis of five objective criteria (roll call votes on, and sponsorship of, bills pertaining to encryption, Internet tax moratorium, securities litigation reform, H1B visas, as well as membership in the Internet caucus).


Senate Scores
House Scores
Scorecard Criteria
Notes on Methods


Senate Top 10
House Top 10


Regional Patterns
Urban vs. Rural
Party Affiliation
Digital Divide
Gender Gap?
Age and Seniority

The main basis for selecting and ranking Senators was the results of the 1998 Scorecard.  In addition, Tech Law Journal considered leadership in promoting bills and issues important to the future of the computer industry and the Internet.

1.  Conrad Burns (R-MT, Score 100).  He had a perfect score.  He was the lead sponsor of the Senate encryption bill (S 377).  He is a Co-chairman of the Internet Caucus.  He is the Chairman of the Communications Subcommittee, which devoted considerable time in 1998 to high tech related issues.  He has also facilitated passage of high tech related legislation in his subcommittee.

2.  Ron Wyden (D-OR, Score 100).  In addition to having a perfect score, he lead the long, arduous, and eventually successful effort in the Senate to pass the Internet Tax Freedom Act.

3.  Spencer Abraham (R-MI, Score 80).  He did not have a perfect score because he did not cosponsor the encryption bill. However, he more than made up for this by his other efforts on behave of high tech.  He was the sponsor and primary proponent in the Senate of the H1B visa reform bill. He was also the sponsor of the Senate digital signatures bill.  Both were enacted into law at the end of the session.  He also sits on both the Commerce and Judiciary Committees, where he has been in a position to help the high tech industry.

4.  Robert Bennett (R-UT, Score 80).  Bennett did not cosponsor the encryption bill.  However, he was the one Senator who spent considerable time on the Year 2000 conversion problem.  He is also Chairman of the Senate Year 2000 Committee.

5.  John Ashcroft (R-MO, Score 80).  He would have had a perfect score if he had been a member of the Internet Caucus.  He deserves a high ranking because of his efforts in 1998 on behalf of enacting encryption legislation.

6.  Patrick Leahy (D-VT, Score 100).  He has a perfect score, but one black mark on his record. While he voted for Sen. Abraham’s bill when it came up for passage on the Senate floor in May, he voted against it in the Judiciary Committee.

7.  Patty Murray (D-WA, Score 100).  She did not take a leadership role in the major high tech bills, but she scored a perfect 100.

8.  Larry Craig (R-ID, Score 100).  He was also one of only five senators to get a perfect score.

9.  Frank Murkowski (R-AK, Score 80).   The Senator from Fairbanks was not a co-sponsor of the encryption bill.  However, he deserves credit for his work on behalf of the Internet Tax Freedom Act.  He argued for excluding the clause that permits existing Internet taxes "grandfather rights."  His amendment failed 28-69.  He was also active on the spam issue.

10.  Trent Lott (R-MS, Score 80).  The Senate Majority Leader was key to getting tech bills enacted into law in the closing weeks of the 105th Congress.  He was not a member of the Internet Caucus.

Some Senators Who Did not Make the Top Ten

Orrin Hatch (R Utah, Score 60).  The Chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee was a key player in the drafting intellectual property bills, and in overseeing antitrust law enforcement.  He did not make the Top Ten because of his score.

John McCain (R AZ, Score 40).  The Chairman of Senate Commerce Committee was more favorably disposed to high tech than his score suggests.  He voted for the H1B bill and voted the right way on the key Internet Tax Freedom Act Amendment (and was the floor manager of the bill).  As Chairman of the Commerce Committee, he spent considerable time on high tech issues, including high speed Internet access, satellite reform, FCC oversight, telecommunications competition, and others.   However, he did not co-sponsor the encryption bill, he did not vote for securities litigation reform, and he was not a member of the Internet Caucus. 

Barbara Boxer (D CA, Score 80).   This was a close call.   She would have had a perfect score is she had been a member of the Internet Caucus.   She was certainly a pro tech Senator.  However, she was not as active on high tech issues as many other Senators.

Diane Feinstein (D CA, Score 40).   She did not come close to making the Top Ten.  While one might have expected her to be pro tech, coming from San Francisco, her record was not very good.  She for the H1B bill and ITFA amendment used in the Scorecard.  However, on the H1B issue she tried to derail Sen. Abraham's bill with one of her own, which was backed by organized labor, and opposed by the high tech industry.

Several other Senators had a score of 80 but did not make the Top Ten list: Charles Robb (R-VA), Don Nickles (R-OK), Connie Mack (R-FL), Rod Grams (R-MN), Slade Gorton (R-WA), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Ben Campbell (R-CO), and Wayne Allard (R-CO).