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Senator John Ensign
Republican of Nevada



Liberal Action Score: 0/100
Conservative Action Score: 13/100


Mailing address: 119 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC 20510
Web page and online contact form
DC Office Phone: 202-224-6244
NV Office Phone: 702-388-6605

Links to Campaign Contribution Data for John Ensign:


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These Liberal and Conservative Ratings for the U.S. Senate are frequently updated as new bills are introduced, new roll call votes are held, and members of the Senate cosponsor existing bills. Our most recent update: May 18, 2011.
That's My Congress: independent information on legislators, legislation and congressional campaigns for the 112th Congress

Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada

Sen. Ensign's Liberal Action Score: 0
The Liberal Action Score is calculated by compiling a series of measured liberal actions (both roll call voting and bill cosponsorship) in the 112th Congress and comparing John Ensign's behavior against a liberal standard:
  • Respect for constitutional protections of American civil liberty
  • Transparency and public access in government
  • Equal treatment of people under law
  • The respect and pursuit of empirical knowledge through support for science and education
  • Protection of the Earth's environmental richness
  • Strengthening of economic opportunity for all
  • Pursuit of peaceful solutions and opposition to militarism in policy
A score of 0 means that Senator Ensign has participated in 0% of our slate of liberal actions in the 112th Congress. Representative Ensign has failed to take any of the slate of liberal actions we have identified for the 112th Congress.

Unfinished Business:
Liberal Bills Senator Ensign has failed to support through cosponsorship:

S. 186

As the text of S. 186 points out, "October 7, 2011, will mark the 10-year anniversary of the start of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan." This war has cost more than a third of a trillion dollars and has spilled the blood of more than a thousand Americans and uncounted civilians of Afghanistan. Ten years into the war, the Taliban is just as strong, Afghanistan is just as fractured, and there is no clear way out. S. 186 declares simply, "It is the policy of the United States to begin the phased redeployment of United States combat forces from Afghanistan not later than July 1, 2011." S. 186 would have the President submit his plan for phased withdrawal from Afghanistan during the same year.

Senator Ensign has failed to cosponsor S. 186. After you read the text of S. 186, call Sen Ensign's office at 702-388-6605 and ask him to support it by adding his cosponsorship.


John Ensign's Conservative Action Score: 13
The Conservative Action Score is calculated by compiling a series of observably conservative roll call votes and bill cosponsorships in the 112th Congress and comparing John Ensign's behavior against that conservative standard:
  • Disregard for constitutional protections of American civil liberty
  • Secrecy and exclusion of citizens from government
  • Support for discriminatory policy
  • The symbolic denigration and practical undermining of science and education in America
  • Active harm to the environment or passive allowance for environmental destruction
  • Pursuit of further advantage for those in America who are already its richest
  • Dismissal of peaceful possibilities and obeiscance to the military-industrial complex
A score of 13 means that Senator Ensign has taken 13% of the possible conservative actions identified on the That's My Congress scorecard during the 112th Congress.

S. 940

Multinational oil and gas corporations are experiencing record profits while the world deals with spill disasters caused by their profitable activities. The supporters of S. 940, the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, are cognizant that big oil corporations are doing just fine on their own, and in this time of economic challenge for the nation tried to end special subsidies benefitting oil and gas corporations and burdening our federal budget. Under S. 940 these oil corporations would have stopped receiving special gifts and would have simply been expected to pay their fair share, just like the American people do. On May 18 2011, a majority of Senators voted for S. 940, but in a procedural move a minority blocked the bill from proceeding. As a result, American oil companies will continue to rake in huge subsidies while they accumulate gigantic profits.

Sen. Ensign has followed a conservative course by voting against this bill.


H.R. 514

On February 15 2011, H.R. 514 was brought to the floor of the Senate for a vote after short notice, only a few minutes of debate, no committee consideration and no amendments allowed. This bill reauthorized provisions of the Patriot Act, a law that allows agents of the U.S. government to spy on, search and seize the property, papers and communications of individuals without a constitutionally-guaranteed finding of probable cause for that action.

Sen. Ensign has followed a conservative course by voting for this bill.


S. 953

Did American politicians learn their lesson from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, in which a lack of full regulation and inspection led to a heavy economic and environmental toll? Perhaps only selectively so. Senator Mitch McConnell introduced S. 953 in the 112th Congress and brought it up for a vote on May 18 2011. The bill puts a fig leaf on oil rig spills by requiring studies of safety patterns, but in practice it makes it harder to challenge offshore oil drilling in a number of ways. If S. 953 had been passed, the government would have only 30 days to study and consider an application for offshore oil drilling before approving it, and Americans would have only 60 days to prepare and submit a challenge to that application. In any court hearing, it requires that the government's hastily-prepared account of the facts be presumed correct. Current leases for offshore oil drilling would be arbitrarily extended by a year, regardless of their record. In short, the bill rigs the review process for offshore oil drilling heavily in the oil industry's favor. Even if petitioners had won in the stacked review process, the remedies they could have obtained would have been limited. Fortunately for environmental standards, S. 953 was voted down.

Sen. Ensign has followed a conservative course by voting for this bill.

Recent legislative news in which John Ensign plays a part:

22 Senators Sacrifice Made in the USA Shoes on the Altar of Corporate Profit
"The duties currently imposed by the United States were set in an era during which high rates of duty were intended to protect production of footwear in the United States.... Footwear duties, which are higher on lower price footwear, serve no purpose..." --Text of S. 730, the "Affordable Footwear Act"
S.730 baldly declares that efforts to protect shoes made in the USA from their competition made in noxious, polluting, worker-exploited sweatshops halfway around the world serve no purpose. Jobs in the USA serve no purpose? Products bought locally serve no purpose? Environmental protections serve no purpose? Buffers against sweatshop labor serve no purpose? 22 Senators signed onto that statement in the 111th Congress when they signed their names to the S. 730 bill as cosponsors. They are: Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) -- principal sponsor
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO)
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS)
Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL)
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Sen. Joseph... [more]


Why Did 45 Senators Vote to Reward Job Exports?
The way our economy is set up now, if American corporations really want to ship all their factories and jobs overseas, they can. But should the government reward that behavior? Under the tax code, that's just what the government does today. Corporations today can get tax deductions and tax credits for firing American workers and hiring cheap and often exploited foreign workers as replacements. That's not good for the American workers who lose their jobs, and it's not good for an economy that leaks its wealth away. S. 3816, the Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act, is a bill proposed by Senator Richard Durbin to eliminate tax breaks for the corporate expenses involved in transferring an American job overseas. Durbin's bill would also promote the development of American jobs by payroll taxes for 2 years on every job created for an American that used to be sourced overseas. For Senators eager to promote American jobs and help end the massive unemployment in the United States, this vote should have been an easy "aye." Indeed, 53 Senators voted in favor of the measure. But 53 votes weren't enough. 45 Senators formed a coalition to shut this bill down on September 28, 2010. The 45 Senators who voted to stop tax incentives for American job creation, and to keep the current system rewarding job exports instead, are: Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Senator John A. Barrasso (R-WY)
Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)
Senator Robert F. Bennett (R-UT)
Senator Kit Bond (R-MO)
Senator Scott Brown (R-MA)
Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS)more]


Senators Stay Home and Turn the Sunshine Off
Will the last Senator in the Capitol please turn the sunshine off? When the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee called together a public subcommittee hearing this week entitled "Removing the Shroud of Secrecy: Making Government More Transparent and Accountable," I especially looked forward to the testimony of Ellen Miller. Miller is the executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, a group that's brought us a public database of lobbyist parties for members of Congress, a group that makes the White House visitor logs accessible, a group that's starting a new Public=Online Movement. On Tuesday March 23, 2010, Miller had her chance to stand before the government and bring the power of sunlight to bear. The following is a complete transcript of her remarks before the committee:
Ellen Miller: My name is Ellen Miller, and I'm cofounder and executive director of the Sunlight Foundation. Sunlight is a four year-old nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to using the power of the internet to catalyze greater governnment accessibility and openness and transparency. We take our inspiration from Justice Brandeis' adage, "Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." We are committed to improving access to government information by... Senator Thomas Carper: Ms. Miller? Miller: Yes? Carper: Please forgive me for interrupting. I've just been informed by my staff that on the floor of the Senate there's been a, uh, move to stop all the proceedings and hearings going on in the Senate, and we're compelled to stop at this point in time. I regret it. There are rules here; we can only go for so long and then we have to stop, and the whistle has blown. Unfortunately, those who are holding hearings now have to cease. I feel very badly about that. I'm going to ask, I'm going to ask each of you, we're not going to ask you to stay around.
And that was that. Empty Senate Committee Hearing on Government Transparency more]


42 Senators Vote To Continue Failed Educational Program
The DC Opportunity Scholarships program had constitutional problems from the start. It violated the separation of Church and State by redirecting public money, through an act of the US Congress, into the accounts of organizations with the explicit goal of converting American children to a particular form of religious worship. The program also violated the constitutional requirement of equality for all citizens under the law by providing public funding of educational programs that engaged in discriminatory hiring practices. Some people might dismiss those serious legal flaws with the DC Opportunity Scholarships. If the program helps children get a good education, it's worth violating the highest law of the land, they might say. However, reports on the results of the voucher program have shown a consistent failure to help students in need. Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted on whether to continue the failed educational program. Supporters of maintained funding for educational failure tried to slip an extension for the DC Opportunity Scholarships into an amendment to an unrelated bill ( S.Amdt. 3456 to S.Amdt. 3452 to H.R. 1586 ). They failed. The 42 senators who voted in favor of pouring money into this unconstitutional, failed educational program were: Lamar Alexander - John Barrasso - Christopher Bond Scott Brown - Sam Brownback - Jim Bunning Richard Burr - Saxby Chambliss - Tom... [more]

What's the Best Liberal Reaction to Sharron Angle?
Senator John Ensign had a nasty sex scandal, so he's not running for re-election. Congressman Dean Heller won't be running for re-election to his seat in the House of Representatives either, as he'll be making a bid for Ensign's Senate seat. Yesterday, Sharron Angle, who ran a bitter, crash and burn campaign for the U.S. Senate last year, announced that she will be campaigning for Heller's seat in 2012. Sharron Angle is darkly interesting because her politics are so extreme. She says wild and crazy things that are difficult not to pay attention to. Should we liberals pay attention to Sharron Angle? Should we write and read and discuss the nutty things she says, because Angle is dangerously close to gaining access to the powers of a seat in Congress, or should we ignore her? Does paying attention to Sharron Angle's antics just give her the kind of attention she wants? Do we make her stronger, even as we critique her? [more]

Slick Surprise Senate Roll Call: Senate Passes Patriot Act 86-12 on 2/15
Boom. Just like that, with hardly any notice at all and no significant public debate, the U.S. Senate has passed a reauthorization of the Patriot Act by a margin of 86-12. Patriot Act powers, which are almost always used for reasons that have nothing to do with terrorism, permit surveillance, search and seizure without probable cause -- a direct violation of the text of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Senators were too scared to talk about the Patriot Act, the Constitution, and the value of liberty over security like grownups in the light of day. Here are some worthwhile patterns to notice. 1. Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky were the only Republicans in the Senate to vote against the Patriot Act. 2. Democrats look better, but not by much: Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Patty Murray of Washington, Jon Tester of Montana, and Tom Udall of New Mexico... [more]