Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s surprising return on Monday night for the big debt ceiling vote led to an outpouring of emotion from House colleagues. The “personification of courage” is how Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi described the Arizona Democrat, still battling to recover from a gunshot wound to the head.
But another Democrat, Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, did not make it from across the street to vote.
The Capitol halls were too crowded with the press and security for Moore to get to the House floor on time, her office explained.
“Congresswoman Moore intended to vote yes on yesterday's compromise,” according to a statement released by her office.
Voting on legislation is just one aspect of a lawmaker’s array of duties. And votes can be missed for a variety of good reasons.
For instance, Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., also was not on hand Monday night, recovering from a treatment this week as he battles cancer. His office did release a statement saying he would not have supported the bill.
But Moore’s explanation, as described by the statement from her office, is remarkable for its candid acknowledgement that she simply walked over to the House chamber too late.
In fact, Moore had voted earlier in the day, including on the rule for the debt-ceiling vote, but then returned to her office, which is in the Rayburn House Office Building, the statement noted.
As the time for the final vote approached, according to the statement, “She left her office to return to the Capitol -- which is just across the street -- in what normally would have been plenty of time....”
“Unfortunately, she arrived on the House floor just seconds too late -- in large part due to congestion in the hallways with extra press and security,” the statement said.
Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., was the only other House member to miss the vote. His office released a statement from the congressman explaining that he was having reconstructive ankle surgery Monday morning in California, and “I was put under general anesthesia for the procedure, and therefore, could not be in Washington D.C. for this vote.” He said he would have voted for passage.
This article appears in the August 2, 2011, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.