Opinion

Top 25 Congress members missing the most votes

Top 25 Congress members missing the most votes
Top 25 Congress members missing the most votes 2016 opinion

Article by Tessa Boyce

We know that some our elected officials miss votes that are important to us, but most people have no clue of finding out who is voting for what or just missing out on work. We put them in office to fight for what we want, but sadly, many times they are MIA when we really need them.

So, our friends at Inside Gov have put together the top 25 congress people who are no-shows when it really counts for us. Check to see if your elected congressperson is on here or actually working for you. Plus, keep this article bookmarked as a reminder for when it comes time to re-elect or just find someone who’ll do what your tax money pays them to do.

Everyone misses a day of work from time to time. The flu, vacation or even an old-fashioned case of playing hooky happens to the best of us. However, when you’re an elected official representing thousands of voters and (presumably) creating legislation that will impact the lives of your constituents, your attendance at work is crucial.

Unfortunately, members of congress often miss the “important vote” memo. InsideGov wanted to see exactly which members of the 114th session of Congress missed the highest percentage of votes. The missed voting percentage from the first session (January 2015 to December 2015) was calculated for each member of Congress. InsideGov found the top 25 vote avoiders, starting with the often-absent lawmakers to the top legislative no-shows.

Some of the officials who represent West Coast states such as California and Oregon assert that the long trek to Washington, D.C., is onerous. Others are much closer to D.C. and still fail to show up for important votes. They offer up a plethora of justifications for missing votes — from business matters to health issues and travel complications. According to GovTrack, the median missed vote percentage is 2.2 for members of the House of Representatives, and 1.7 percent for senators.

None of these politicians came close to those percentages in the 114th session. Perhaps this is one reason why Congress has a current approval rating of 14 percent.

#25. Jackie Speier

Percentage of Votes Missed: 9.5
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: CA

Congresswoman Jackie Speier maintains that she takes her job very seriously, despite missing almost 10 percent of votes in the 114th session of Congress. Speier listed off various justifications, from the flu to personal obligations and sick family members. She did, however, manage to attend a vote in 2015 the same day she fractured her kneecap.

#24. Alma Adams

Percentage of Votes Missed: 10.1
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: NC

According to ProPublica, Congresswoman Alma Adams missed 22 votes because she was attending memorial services in 2015. Her spokesperson, Shadawn Reddick-Smith, said, “Anyone who has lost a parent or a loved one knows much time and energy goes into laying them to rest. A person also deserves to grieve in their own right.”

#23. Zoe Lofgren

Percentage of Votes Missed: 10.4
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: CA

Zoe Lofgren tends to miss multiple votes when she is running for reelection in California. She also attributes most of her absences to “personal or family matters,” or “medical matters.”

#22. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Percentage of Votes Missed: 10.5
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: FL

Women’s rights activist and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz had a very busy 2015. However, most of it was not spent in Washington. She attributed many of her absences to “travel difficulties” but it’s probable that her responsibilities as DNC chair may have also kept Wasserman Schultz from D.C.

#21. Barbara Boxer

Percentage of Votes Missed: 10.9
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: Senate
State: CA

Sen. Barbara Boxer has spent most of her time in California recently, probably because of the shooting in San Bernardino that occurred on Dec. 2. Still, her career average of missing 4.1 percent of votes more than doubles the Senate median of 1.7 percent.

#20. Stephen Fincher

Percentage of Votes Missed: 11.1
Party Affiliation: Republican Party
Chamber: House
State: TN

Rep. Stephen Fincher is a tea partier heavily swayed by the bible. ProPublica reported that most of his missed votes were justified as “ambiguous or no reason.” Fincher has only been in Congress since 2011, so there is a chance his attendance rate will improve with time.

#19. Tammy Duckworth

Percentage of Votes Missed: 11.5
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: IL

Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran, missed a slew of votes in 2014 due to maternity leave. Her time in Congress began in 2013, so it is still too early to say what kind of attendance record Duckworth will possess.

#18. Sheila Jackson Lee

Percentage of Votes Missed: 11.6
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: TX

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee follows a predicable pattern of missing votes when she is running for reelection. Most of her absences are attributed to “official business,” although only 49 percent of her total absences were formally explained.

#17. Emanuel Cleaver

Percentage of Votes Missed: 11.8
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: MO

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s number of absences skyrocketed at the end of 2015. Although the representative is very active on his Twitter, there is no clear explanation for his sudden absenteeism in Washington. ProPublica reported that most of his absences were due to “official business.”

#16. Peter DeFazio

Percentage of Votes Missed: 12.1
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: OR

Democrat Peter DeFazio underwent an emergency eye surgery in 2015, causing him to miss a variety of congressional votes.

#15. Barbara Lee

Percentage of Votes Missed: 12.2
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: CA

Rep. Barbara Lee is on three subcommittees within the Appropriations Committee (Labor, Health and Human Services; Military Construction; and State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs) as well as the Budget Committee, so her presence in Washington is imperative. Still, she missed 12.2 percent of votes in the 114th meeting of Congress, and ProPublica reports that most of her career absences are because of “ambiguous or no reason” rationales.

#14. Phil Roe

Percentage of Votes Missed: 15.2
Party Affiliation: Republican Party
Chamber: House
State: TN

Republican David Phil Roe missed the majority of congressional votes while campaigning for reelection. His career average is a respectable 2.7 percent.

#13. Luis Gutiérrez

Percentage of Votes Missed: 15.3
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: IL

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez attributes his missed votes to his work on immigration reform, and the fact that his family lives in Puerto Rico. His spokesman said, “There are a lot of requests for his time and he typically has immigrant- and Latino-related events most weeks and/or weekends, both inside and outside his district. Because he cannot be in two places at the same time, important events outside Washington force him to miss votes.”

#12. Bobby Rush

Percentage of Votes Missed: 15.6
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: IL

Congressman Bobby Rush has been representing Chicago since 1993, but his voting record has never been superb — his career average missed voting percentage is 15.7. However, most of his absences were between 2014 and 2016 and he asserts that serious health problems kept him from D.C.

#11. Mark Takai

Percentage of Votes Missed: 16.2
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: HI

Along with living nearly 5,000 miles away from Washington, representative Mark Takai was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this fall — news that would keep anyone away from the office.

#10. Harry Reid

Percentage of Votes Missed: 16.5
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: Senate
State: NV

Sen. Harry Reid has been in politics since joining the Nevada State Assembly in 1969. His average missed voting percentage in the Senate (from 1987 to 2016) is an excellent 1.6 percent, so where has Reid been? At 75 years old, it’s not surprising that he’s encountering more health issues, but he actually injured himself in early 2015 when a piece of workout equipment broke. Reid suffered broken ribs and a broken jaw.

#9. David Vitter

Percentage of Votes Missed: 16.8
Party Affiliation: Republican Party
Chamber: Senate
State: LA

Sen. David Vitter is known for missing a key vote in 2001 for reportedly choosing to spend his time with a prostitute instead. In 2015, Vitter missed more votes because he ran for governor of Louisiana, and lost to Democrat John Bel Edwards.

#8. Gregory Meeks

Percentage of Votes Missed: 17.2
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: NY

Rep. Gregory Meeks encountered various medical misfortunes throughout this session of Congress. First, his ninety-year-old father was hospitalized, and soon after Meeks had a mild heart attack and underwent surgery. He shrugged off the absences and politicized his experience stating, “I hope my experience can heighten awareness about heart disease and the importance of knowing the signs of a heart episode.”

#7. Adam Smith

Percentage of Votes Missed: 18.8
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: WA

According to ProPublica, Democrat Adam Smith can’t seem to tell the public exactly why he’s constantly missing votes. Over half of the votes he’s missed since 1997 are cited as “ambiguous or no reason” absences. However, Smith’s House website states that he had hip surgery in 2014 and 2015, and is scheduled for another in the coming weeks.

Smith acknowledges his missed votes and said, “For every vote taken by the House during my absence, I am committed to ensuring that my constituents have access to the appropriate records so they know where I stand on the issues.”

#6. Loretta Sanchez

Percentage of Votes Missed: 20.3
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: CA

Rep. Loretta Sanchez did not always have an abysmal voting record. From 1997 to January 2016, Sanchez missed an average of 6.7 percent of congressional votes. She recently announced she’s running for the Senate seat that opened up once Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer said she wasn’t running for reelection. Expect Sanchez to spend a lot of time in California ramping up her campaign.

#5. Donald Payne Jr.

Percentage of Votes Missed: 22.6
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: NJ

Congressman Donald Payne Jr. is the biggest no-show from New Jersey. The average missed voting percentage for New Jersey representatives is 1.36 percent — Payne’s 22.6 missed voting percentage is staggering compared to his peers.

#4. Ted Cruz

Percentage of Votes Missed: 23.6
Party Affiliation: Republican Party
Chamber: Senate
State: TX

Sen. Ted Cruz is steadily climbing toward Trump in the polls in certain states, and Cruz’s constant campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination is pulling him away from his responsibilities in Washington. However, he can’t blame it all on the election. Cruz reportedly missed around 9.5 percent of votes before announcing his presidential desires.

#3. Ruben Hinojosa

Percentage of Votes Missed: 24.1
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Chamber: House
State: TX

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa has been in office since 1997, but, according to GovTrack, his percentage of missed votes skyrocketed during the last session of Congress. Perhaps this is because he recently announced that he is retiring. Hinojosa also underwent knee surgery in 2015 in his home state of Texas.

#2. Lindsey Graham

Percentage of Votes Missed: 28.3
Party Affiliation: Republican Party
Chamber: Senate
State: SC

Sen. Lindsey Graham missed important votes in 2015, both before and after he suspended his presidential campaign. The ardent pro-life politician inexplicably missed the vote to defund Planned Parenthood in August. Although he tweeted that he would vote to defund the nonprofit, a tweet certainly does not make up for his absence. Graham was the only senator who did not attend this vote.

#1. Marco Rubio

Percentage of Votes Missed: 35.4
Party Affiliation: Republican Party
Chamber:
Senate
State: FL

Sen. Marco Rubio is busy campaigning and trying to overtake both Trump and Cruz in the polls. However, he has been criticized for taking an excessive amount of time off. Rubio was not particularly apologetic about the missed votes, stating, “I have missed votes this year. You know why? Because while as a senator I can help shape the agenda. Only a president can set the agenda. We’re not going to fix America with senators and congressmen.”

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