Guam Del. Michael San Nicolas said strategic meetings and visits to Guam are the primary reasons he was absent from Congress. He was noted as the second most absent among all members of the U.S. House of Representatives, according to govtrack.us.
The tracking covered San Nicolas' first year as a member of Congress, from January to December 2019. GovTrack.us began in 2004 as a project to use technology to make the U.S. Congress more open and accessible.
San Nicolas also missed 52.2% of voting – 152 of 291 votes – in 2019, the watchdog group's data showed.
San Nicolas said his travels to constituents on Guam are partly the reason for many of his absences. He also said he chose some meetings over voting on certain issues.
"Our success over the past year in moving critical issues for Guam, like war claims and Medicaid parity, was due to a very conscious strategy that included taking meetings with officials and stakeholders during voting times," he told The Guam Daily Post when reached for comment.
"I gauge the effectiveness of our office by the work that we are able to achieve and we will make strategic sacrifices in order to get things done," San Nicolas added. "Additionally, votes are missed due to me being on Guam or traveling to Guam for district work, such as the upcoming State of the Island address this Monday, which will cause me to miss any votes that occur in D.C. on Monday or Tuesday." San Nicolas was referring to the governor's State of the Island address. Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero's State of the Island address will be at 6:30 p.m. today in the Speaker Antonio R. Unpingco Legislative Session Hall, Guam Congress Building.
San Nicolas added, "Voting times are fluid and the number of votes that may be missed are unknown in advance, so this can end up resulting in missing dozens of votes in a single day."
San Nicolas co-sponsored 83 bills and resolutions introduced by other members of Congress. Co-sponsorship shows a willingness to work with others to advance policy goals, the watchdog stated.
San Nicolas is the 96th least often to get influential co-sponsors compared to all representatives, and was tied with 80 others in that spot.
One of San Nicolas’ bills and resolutions in 2019 had a co-sponsor who was a chair or ranking member of a committee that the bill was referred to, the watchdog site added.