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Posted at 4:08 PM ET, 02/23/2011

Handful of House members have missed 40 percent of votes

By Felicia Sonmez

Updated: 4:45 p.m.

Eight weeks into the 112th Congress, several House members have missed as many as 40 percent of votes, according to a Washington Post analysis.

The high number of votes missed by some lawmakers is due in part to the flurry of legislative activity last week, when the House took 103 roll call votes on amendments to the resolution to keep the federal government funded. The resolution passed at 4:40 a.m. Saturday after five days of votes on amendments.

The large number of amendments considered by the House meant that missing even one day of votes could put a damper on a member's legislative record. The House held roll call votes on four amendments last Tuesday; it voted on 20 on Wednesday, 23 on Thursday, 35 on Friday and 21 in the early-morning hours on Saturday.

Aside from Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who has not voted since she was shot in an assassination attempt in Tucson last month, three House members missed more than half of the 103 roll call votes on amendments last week. They were Reps. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), who missed 56 votes each, and Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas), who missed 53.

In addition, three House members missed at least 40 percent of last week's votes on amendments. They were Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), who missed 43 votes, and Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who missed 42 votes each. Harman has announced plans to retire from the House.

Quayle, McCollum and Peters had been granted a leave of absence by the House. Quayle was attending the funeral of his father-in-law in California; McCollum was traveling to Yemen on official business; and Peters returned home to Michigan on Friday evening due to a family medical emergency.

Paul spokesperson Rachel Mills said that Paul was in his district attending the funeral of the husband of his longtime friend and district director. Spokespeople for Hinojosa and Harman were not immediately available.

The six lawmakers missing 40 percent or more of votes on amendments last week are now among the top eight House members with the highest percentage of total votes missed. (The other two are Giffords and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who traditionally does not vote because of his role as speaker.)

Not counting Giffords and Boehner, Hinojosa ranks first, missing 40.8 percent of all votes so far. McCollum is second, with 40.1 percent of all votes; she is followed by Quayle with 39.5 percent, Harman with 38.8 percent, Paul with 32 percent and Peters with 29.9 percent.

Lower down on the list is Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), who missed roll call votes on 24 amendments last week and has missed 17.7 percent of votes so far this Congress. McCarthy communications director Shams Tarek said that the New York Democrat was sidelined by pneumonia late last week and "was under doctor's orders to get plenty of rest."

Tarek added that while McCarthy missed votes on some of last week's amendments, she pulled herself out of bed at 4 a.m. Saturday in order to make it in for the final roll call vote on the government-funding resolution.

A total of 174 House members have not missed a single vote to date during the 112th Congress.

By Felicia Sonmez  | February 23, 2011; 4:08 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

This was about the dumbest article the Post has published. What was the point of the article? Who cares if a Congressman misses a vote because they are sick or a family member has died.

Posted by: stockinger | February 25, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

This was about the dumbest article the Post has published. What was the point of the article? Who cares if a Congressman misses a vote because they are sick or a family member has died.

Posted by: stockinger | February 25, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

174 of 431 have missed NO votes. Do the math - it's not very good. About the same as the current rate of graduation from high school. And at their current salary, a lot of them are NOT earning their money!!

Posted by: WeeGeordie | February 24, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

This is dumb. All of them had good reasons for missing their votes. This article was just published to make stupid people rant about how (insert political party here) doesn't care about American or what have you for some WaPo staffer's amusement.

Looks like it's working great. Who knew there were stupid people on the internet?

Posted by: joshlct | February 24, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

How wonderful to have a job that pays 168K a year and you only need to do 60% of said job. Sign me up!

Posted by: azspots | February 24, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

The two with no excuses for their absences are both Democrats. They're practicing their fleebagging skills.

Posted by: ThisIsReality | February 24, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

What about woo woo Wu from Oregon? This congressman had a nervous breakdown a week before the election and his staff hid him until the election was over.

Are there any incapacities - mental or physical - that are grounds for dismissal?

Does the FBI have to find cash in their freezer?

Posted by: alance | February 24, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

You really can't blame people for being ill or attending funerals.

Posted by: TerryMcT | February 24, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

This article is a waste of cyberspace.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | February 24, 2011 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Being that the House can have as many as 20 votes in a single day (on the smaller less controversial issues) in rapid succession, being sick one day or being out of town for a funeral could mean you would miss a large protion of the total votes since the session is just begining. Not news. Let me know who has missed 40%+ of the votes once the Hose has been in session for a year or so. Then it might actually mean something.

Posted by: schnauzer21 | February 24, 2011 8:17 AM | Report abuse

If members are absent because of funerals or on official business in other countries - that justifies an article??

Boehner (and Harry Ried) shouldn't be included in MISSED VOTES because they frequently don't vote in order to be able to reintroduce a bill.
Only if their absences were unexcused should they be included in "missed votes." But the reporter doesn't specify.

Lots of wasted ink, WaPo.

Posted by: angie12106 | February 24, 2011 8:03 AM | Report abuse

This article seems like busy work for an intern that accidentally got published. After reading it, I asked myself what I learned and the answer was - absolutely nothing. The folks that missed votes all seemed to have valid reasons, and of course, the data was abnormal to start with since so many votes had been taken in such a short time. Come on, WP, you can do better than this.

Posted by: warren5 | February 24, 2011 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Bronski wrote:
Boehner misses votes because he's just to darn drunk.
-----------------------------------------
Well, my friend, have you checked out Mz. Nancy's voting record as Speaker? She must be a real lush!

Posted by: jpost1 | February 24, 2011 6:23 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, 79 votes in just three days. As the article itself indicates, this represents an essentially meaningless artifact. And, given the explanations provided for missing a couple of days, presumably bona fide, an even more meaningless article.

Posted by: edallan | February 24, 2011 2:14 AM | Report abuse

When Congressmen know they will miss votes they usually find someone on the other side of the aisle who was going to vote the other way and make a deal to both miss the vote. I'm betting that's why so many of the missed votes were paired up exactly in this article, with one person being a Democrat and the other a Republican.

Posted by: jlp7t | February 23, 2011 11:40 PM | Report abuse

It appears that someone who knew a little about statistics was being paid by the word here.

What's the point?

I carefully read this article, and everytime I thought there was a point, there was a valid excuse for being out.

It seems everyone not voting was sick or had a death in the family, and the period in question was too short on which to do a valid analysis.

Posted by: SCVoter | February 23, 2011 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Boehner misses votes because he's just to darn drunk.

Posted by: Bronski | February 23, 2011 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Boehner misses votes because he;s just to darn drunk.

Posted by: Bronski | February 23, 2011 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a candidate for the biggest non-story of the week. The story starts by saying the statistics are meaningless because of the unusually large number of votes packed into just a few days. Everyone seems to have a valid excuse. So, where's the story here?

Posted by: AlaninMissoula | February 23, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a candidate for the biggest non-story of the week. The story starts by saying the statistics are meaningless because of the unusually large number of votes packed into just a few days. Everyone seems to have a valid excuse. So, where's the story here?

Posted by: AlaninMissoula | February 23, 2011 5:46 PM | Report abuse

funny how you write the article to insert a republican between 2 dems who failed to vote...
normally that means that you had to do that to insure the balance you think has to exist...

Posted by: DwightCollins | February 23, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

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