Richard Shelby leads Senate in votes against Obama

Mary Orndorff Troyan, Montgomery Advertiser

WASHINGTON – Republican Richard Shelby led the Senate last year in votes against President Obama, according to the annual vote analysis by Congressional Quarterly.

On issues where the Obama administration stated a position, Shelby voted against the White House 63.9 percent of the time. Sen. Jeff Sessions was second at 62.2 percent, making the Alabama senators the most anti-Obama pair in the Senate.

The analysis looked at 75 roll call votes in the Senate in 2015 involving energy, health care, domestic spending, immigration, education, Iran, trade, environment, surveillance, labor, homeland security, and military spending.

Senate Republicans, on average, opposed Obama’s position 47 percent of the time. By contrast, Senate Democrats supported Obama’s position 87 percent of the time.

The vote analysis is especially relevant this election season, with Shelby’s primary challengers questioning his resolve in opposing Obama.

Jonathan McConnell, a former Marine and business owner from Birmingham, in particular has said Shelby hasn’t been forceful enough in supporting conservative causes.

“It is no surprise that Senator Shelby sensed Alabamians were unhappy with his record, and shaped up just in time for an election year,” said McConnell campaign spokeswoman Liz BeShears. “But voters aren’t buying it.”

Shelby, first elected to the Senate in 1986, has campaigned as an Obama antagonist, even though this is Obama’s last year in office.

“He is proud of his conservative voting record and believes that fighting against President Obama is one of the many ways that he can stand up for the people of Alabama,” said Shelby’s spokeswoman, Torrie Matous.

Shelby’s four challengers in the March 1 GOP primary are McConnell, former state Sen. Shadrack McGill of Woodville, technology consultant Marcus Bowman of Fairhope, and John Martin of Dothan.

According to the CQ analysis, Shelby and Sessions opposed Obama more often than either of the two Republican senators still running for president. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida ranked third at 60.5 percent; and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was sixth at 57.7 percent.

The White House had a stated position on only 22 percent of Senate votes last year. Excluding confirmation votes on judicial and executive branch nominees, it was only 15 percent, according to CQ. The publication has tracked presidential support scores in Congress since 1954.