Luis Gutierrez

Study: Illinois Reps. Bobby Rush, Luis Gutierrez Miss Most Votes in House

Two Illinois members of the U.S. House of Representatives have missed more House votes than any other member, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by ProPublica, shows that Rep. Bobby Rush and Rep. Luis Gutierrez have missed the most House votes out of all 434 current voting lawmakers. The grand percentage of missed votes by Rush stands at 22.4 percent, and Gutierrez's stands at 15.1 percent.

Rush has represented Illinois' 1st District, which covers part of Chicago's South Side as well as some south and southwest suburbs, since 1993. Out of 6,906 votes in the House since 2007, Rush has missed 1,549. Of those missed votes, Rush offered explanations for about a quarter of them, according to ProPublica.

Health issues for Rush and his wife were main explanations for his high number of missed votes, according to ProPublica. It's possible that data that precedes 2007 would show a much lower percentage for Rush.

Gutierrez has held office since 1993 as well, representing Illinois' 4th District, which covers parts of Chicago's South and Southwest Sides as well as some west and northwest suburbs. Gutierrez has also missed more than 1,000 votes since he was first elected, skipping a total of 1,044 out of 6,902. Of those votes, he offered explanations for about 41 percent of them, according to the study.

ProPublica's study also delved into the reasons for missed votes, although the statistics show that many representatives did not offer descriptive explanations. For Rush, the grand majority of his missed votes (344) were due to medical matters, but 63 of his absences were "ambiguous" or did not have an explanation.

Most of Gutierrez's absences (335) are also documented as ambiguous or without reason. His biggest concrete explanation (68) was personal or family matters followed by "official business" (32). ProPublica credits many of his absences to his personal work on immigration policy, which keeps him on the road frequently.

The lawmakers' explanations for missed votes are logged in the Congressional Record, and many of them also say how they would have voted if they were present. According to ProPublica, the most common explanations are travel delays, job fairs in their districts, births of their children, graduation ceremonies and illness. Lawmakers have also missed more than 2,000 votes due to medical reasons, the study found.

Although many explanations are due to circumstance, some lawmakers skip a vote to send a message. ProPublica notes that Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois missed a vote in 2012 on a resolution that would have held Eric Holder in contempt of Congress due to her position on the matter. Her explanation in the Congressional Record reads "I would not participate in what I strongly believe was an abuse of power by the majority." 

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