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Report: Florida's Rubio the biggest no-show in Senate

The Florida Republican says family obligations and other duties are the reasons for his missing nearly 100 votes in four years in office.

By Doug G. Ware
Report: Florida's Rubio the biggest no-show in Senate
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has missed more votes than his fellow senators. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- He's been representing the state of Florida for four years and may run for the White House next year, but Sen. Marco Rubio has distinguished himself in Congress in one regard: He has missed more votes in the U. S. Senate than any of his colleagues, an analysis revealed this week.

Working with GovTrack.us, news website Vocativ examined the voting records of every federal representative to determine who has missed the most votes and who has rarely (or, in the case of a few, never) been absent.

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Of the 1,198 votes cast during his tenure, the 43-year-old Republican senator has missed voting in 99 of them, Vocativ reported. That's an 8.2 percent absentee rate, which amounts to four times the Senate average of 2.01 percent.

Vocativ acknowledged there are other sitting lawmakers who have been absent more, but did not qualify them for the list because of special circumstances surrounding their record. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., has a higher absentee rate than anyone but missed an entire year in 2012 when he suffered a stroke. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was also excused from the list because two presidential campaigns (2000, 2008) left him limited time to vote.

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Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., was listed at No. 2. Elected at the same time as Rubio, Moran has missed 96 votes (8.01 percent). Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, the only Democrat to appear in the top 10, was listed third (6.83 percent), followed by Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., (6.6 percent) and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, (6.32 percent) to round out the top five.

There are many reasons a lawmaker might miss a vote, such as health maladies or constituency-related work, but Rubio said the majority of his missed votes were a direct result of his fatherhood duties.

"Sen. Rubio takes his responsibilities as both a senator and a father seriously," the Republican's office said Wednesday, in response to the Vocativ report. "The vast majority of missed votes are when the latter duties take precedent, and he needs to be in Miami for family commitments."

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In fact, Rubio is one of the few senators who have not moved their family to the Washington, D.C., area, Rubio spokesperson Alex Conant told Politico on Wednesday.

"In recent years he's also had to return to Florida and miss votes due to his mother's health and civic responsibilities like jury duty," Rubio's office said in its response.

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The senator's office also said that in most of the 99 votes Rubio missed, his vote would not have made a difference.

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"Normally when he misses votes, his vote would not have been decisive, but in those instances he tries to submit statements for the record or write a blog post explaining how he would have voted," the statement said.

Rubio is said to be "seriously" considering a presidential run in 2016 and is taking steps to explore such a possibility.

In the Senate, Republicans missed far more votes than Democrats did, the Vocativ report said. One analyst said the reason is simple: They were in the minority. Democrats controlled Congress for eight years prior to the GOP regaining the majority last month, and analysts say those in the minority have less interest in getting bills passed -- because their moves are less likely to overcome the majority opinion.

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On the flip side, the ironman award would certainly go to Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who hasn't missed a single vote in the nearly 6,000 cast during her 17-year stint.

In the House of Representatives, absentee rates were much higher than in the Senate.

Since he was first elected in 1965, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., has missed roughly 4,000 of the 27,000 votes cast during his 50-year congressional career. That's an absentee rate of 16.34 percent -- nearly twice Rubio's rate.

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Behind Conyers, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, had the second-highest absentee rate (14.8 percent) -- followed by Rep. Richard Nolan, D-Minn., (13.67 percent), Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., (12.24 percent), and Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., (11.64 percent) -- rounding out the top five.

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