Sens. Chuck Grassley (middle) and Susan Collins (right) are the current Senators with the most consecutive votes, both beginning their streaks long before this 2001 news conference.
Collins’ colleagues have supported her in this effort: Earlier this year, her fellow Senators protected her streak by stopping a “vote-a-rama” on amendments to the highway bill earlier than planned to allow Senators to attend her engagement party on March 13.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had previously announced plans to work late into the night to finish the bill, but he gave in to love.
“There is a very important event tonight — it may not mean much to anyone outside the Senate family, but it is to us, being able to recognize Susan Collins on a very special occasion in her life — and we are going to leave here so people who want to go to that event can do so,” Reid said.
Even the upcoming nuptials are not expected to affect her voting streak. Collins plans to get married during the August recess.
A Demonstration of Respect
For anyone who has spent time in the office buildings of the Capitol, the clamoring bells calling Members to vote are hard to ignore.
Looking at the last time Congressional Quarterly analyzed voting participation records, Congress showed higher participation rates in 2011 than in previous years: The House had a 96.6 percent participation rate, the highest since CQ began keeping track in 1953, and the Senate recorded 97 percent.
The House’s record is even more impressive considering that chamber recorded its third-highest roll-call vote total that year. By comparison, in 2010, the House had 94.2 percent and the Senate had a 96.6 percent participation rate.
When comparing voting records in the House and Senate, it’s important to note that the House has a much higher frequency of roll-call votes. In 2011, for example, the House held 945 roll calls and the Senate 235.
In the House, Rep. William Natcher (D-Ky.), who served until his death in 1994, holds the record for the most consecutive roll-call votes: He cast 18,401 consecutive votes over his 41 years in the House, before illness prevented him from coming to the chamber. He was even wheeled onto the House floor on a hospital gurney to place those final votes.
“If you are truly representing your constituents, you better have a good reason not to show up and vote,” Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) said. In his ninth term in the House, LoBiondo was one of nine House Members who had perfect attendance records in 2011, and he has yet to miss a vote in 2012.
Grassley, the current record-holder in the Senate, last missed a vote in July 1993; he was in Iowa at the time, inspecting flood damage.
“When the Senate’s in session, I’m in Washington voting, and when the Senate is out of session, I’m in Iowa’s 99 counties holding meetings with constituents,” he told Roll Call. “Not missing votes is a way to demonstrate respect for the public trust I hold in representing Iowans and to do the job I’m elected to do.” Grassley holds meetings in each of the 99 counties of Iowa each year.