Congressman Michael San Nicolas has defended his voting record in the House, stressing that voting sometimes has to be sacrificed for more important meetings that are crucial to pushing Guam’s agenda.
In a post on his Facebook page, San Nicolas said a trade-off is sometimes needed because many of the most opportune meetings also occur during voting time which is when administration officials are not meeting with other members.
“During votes. one thing is certain – that is the absolute BEST time to get undivided attention from Administration officials, Committee Staff, the Senate, and critical stakeholder organizations and representatives because MOST of them are not getting pulled away by other Members,” the congressman said.
“This is how we were able to marshall unanimous support for War Claims in the Committee and in the House … and hopefully soon in the Senate … while also getting repeated letters of support from the Administration. All while the Liaison was saying it was going to fail,” he added.
Roll Call, an online publication that provides a legislative tracking service, had reported that San Nicolas voted just 47 percent of the time he has been eligible through Oct. 23, and that overall, he’s missed 138 of 259 votes so far.
“Voting is important. Yes. But in the Congress, the most valuable commodity is a member’s TIME. No member of Congress can be in two places at once. Oftentimes committee meetings and votes and hearings all overlap because the system moves regardless of individual availability,” San Nicolas said.
He added that the entire process of representation defers to each individual member the discretion to determine what their own best use of time is to accomplish the goals of their districts.
“We vote when we can as often as we can, but we also take advantage of the captive audience when we can as often as we can. Our job is to produce and deliver for our people and we do this strategically making sacrifices where we need to in order to gain advantages where they present,” San Nicolas said.
He added that other votes are at times lost when he travels to Guam to address local concerns that have federal impacts. He pointed to the recent meeting with Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to attempt a “focus” on H.R. 1365 and discourage the “distraction” of local Bill 181 as an example.
“Less local interference means more available TIME. It reduces the time wasted circling back to shore up support caused by uncoordinated messaging. Congressional work is complex. It is physiologically impossible to be in two places at the same time, let alone three or four, and so we execute seeking the best opportunities for the highest potential rate of return,” San Nicolas said.
He added: “That is how we have been successful thus far and we will continue to exercise that discretion as needed to produce results rather than placate criticism.”