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Scorecards: Congressional


In the Spring of 1998, the Board of Directors of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) authorized the publication of a Hispanic Congressional Scorecard, covering both sessions of the 105th Congress, soon after it adjourned and prior to the 1998 elections. A Scorecard Committee was appointed to identify and recommend to the Board votes for inclusion in the document (see front cover for a listing of Committee members).

The fundamental purpose of the Scorecard is to ensure that Latino leaders, organizations, and citizens are fully informed about the performance of federal legislators on issues of importance to the Hispanic community. In addition, it is expected that the future behavior of the U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators themselves may be influenced by the knowledge that key votes on issues of particular significance to Hispanic Americans will be scrutinized and published.

Pursuant to discussions of the NHLA Board, the Committee used three basic criteria to select key votes:

  • Importance of the vote to the Hispanic community, measured both substantively and symbolically
  • Prior notice to members of Congress regarding the position of the Latino community, as evidenced by a formal communication by at least one NHLA member organization to the Congress>/LI>
  • Substantial consensus, although not necessarily unanimity, among NHLA member organizations regarding the "pro-Hispanic" position
During the Committee's deliberations, an informal "issue diversity" criterion also emerged. In other words, the Committee sought some degree of balance in the votes selected so that the Scorecard would not be unduly weighted toward any single issue, e.g., immigration or voting rights. Committee decisions were arrived at by consensus. Member organizations identified potential votes, which were then discussed, sometimes at length. Only those votes reflecting a consensus of the Committee were recommended to the Board for inclusion.

On September 18, 1998, after consideration and some revisions of the Committee's recommendations, the full NHLA Board of Directors selected the votes included herein for inclusion in the Scorecard. In several instances, votes that were expected but which had not yet taken place were authorized for inclusion in the Scorecard.

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) calls for a spirit of unity among Latinos nationwide to provide the Hispanic community with greater visibility and a clearer, stronger voice in our country's affairs. The NHLA seeks a consensus among Hispanic leaders to help frame policy and promote public awareness of the major issues that affect Latinos at a national level. The NHLA was founded in 1991 as a non-partisan coalition of major Hispanic national organizations and distinguished Hispanic leaders from across the nation. It represents all major ethnic groups in the Latino community - Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and other Americans whose countries of origin are in the Caribbean or in Central or South America. Governing the NHLA is a 30-member board comprised of the chief officers of 24 national Hispanic organizations, along with elected officials, corporate executives, and other prominent professionals. The goals that guide its efforts are: (1) to identify, analyze and shape public policies on Latino issues, based upon a consensus of Latino leaders nationally; (2) to prepare and disseminate a consensus-based policy agenda that specifies the nature and scope of Latino concerns and needs throughout the country; and (3) to promote greater awareness of and attention to Latino concerns among the nation's policy-makers and civic community leaders, as well as among the general public.

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