Personal Explanations: How Congress Explains Its Absences

Pro Publica: “Voting attendance has become a topic of discussion in the Republican presidential primary, as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has missed about a third of all votes this year, by far the most in that chamber.”

“In the House, unlike the Senate, lawmakers are given a chance to provide ‘Personal Explanations’ to explain missed votes … ProPublica has collected all of the Personal Explanations filed since 2007 — some 5,058 in all, covering 21,176 votes — and created a database that lets readers look up their representatives’ missed votes, as well as their explanations. These statements … document a little-discussed aspect of the lives and work of lawmakers, and provide hints at the competing priorities and difficulties of a system that, to many, seems chronically dysfunctional.”

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“The reasons lawmakers cite most for missing votes range from the mundane (travel delays, often due to weather, or remaining in their districts for job fairs) to more personal (the birth of a child or a graduation ceremony or illness). Lawmakers have missed more than 2,000 votes for medical reasons, and thousands more for personal and family reasons.”

“Democrats have missed more votes than Republicans since the beginning of 2007, but they account for an even greater share of the explained missed votes: two of every three since the beginning of 2013.”

Pro Publica lists the Representatives with the most missed votes: Bobby Rush and Luis Gutierrez, both Illinois Democrats, top the list at 22.4% and 15.1%, respectively.




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