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Senators love to boast about their voting records, and Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, is no exception.
During a weekly conference call with Iowa reporters, Grassley was asked about his re-election prospects this year.
"I'm going to have tough competition," he said of his three opponents. "Even though there's suggestions at the national level that this could be a very Republican year, I can't assume that it's going to be a very Republican year. And I'm going to have to campaign very, very hard. ... For instance, I haven't missed a vote since 1993. I hope I don't have to miss any votes this year because of a campaign."
Has Grassley really been so steadfast? We had to limit our investigation to roll call votes; in the Senate, less controversial bills or amendments are frequently adopted by unanimous consent or by voice vote, meaning members simply say "aye" or "nay."
First, we turned to Congressional Quarterly , a publication that annually studies lawmakers' voting records. According to CQ 's Web site, Grassley has had a flawless voting record since 1993. The Washington Post also compiles similar information, and we found that Grassley hasn't been absent for a vote since he missed four votes on July 14, 1993. (Those votes pertained to a bill that would allow federal employees to participate in the political process so long as it was done outside of work.)
What kept Grassley from the Senate floor that day in 1993? Flooding in Iowa, according to the Des Moines Register, noting that the senator has become "the iron man of the Senate racking up ... 5,700 consecutive votes."
Indeed, as an average, Grassley has voted about 99.6 percent of the time since he took office in 1981. Other senators elected at the same time cannot tout such near-perfect records. For example, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania has, on average, voted 93 percent of the time in the last 28 years, first as a Republican then as a Democrat. And Sen. Chris Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut, has voted on average about 90.7 percent of the time.
Grassley has gone to great lengths to maintain his record. When, for example, a blizzard threatened Washington, D.C., on the eve of a crucial health care overhaul vote on Dec. 19, 2009, Grassley spent the night in his office to make sure he didn't miss it.
"Bc of potential blizzard I've come to office to sleep," he Tweeted the night of the 18th. "Vote at 720am vote Sat. Hv not missed vote 7/93. 5700 votes consecutive."
Grassley said he hadn't missed a vote since 1993, which is certainly correct for every recorded vote. Grassley has every right to brag. We give him a True.
The Des Moines Register, Amid DC snow threat, Grassley camps in office to make early Sat. vote , by Tom Beaumont, Dec. 18, 2009
Sen. Charles Grassley, news conference call , Dec. 30, 2009
GovTrack.us, Charles Grassley, voting record , accessed Jan. 5, 2010
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