Politics

Sanders has missed all but one Senate roll call vote in 2016

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders addresses a rally on Capitol Hill. Courtesy file photo

While presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been rallying voters across the nation with a message of income inequality and Wall Street reform — issues he has been pressing in Congress for years — his busy travel schedule has resulted in a virtual absence from his day job as a Vermont senator this year.

An analysis of the 2016 roll call votes shows that Sanders has missed 29 of the 30 floor votes.

His one vote was a yea on a bill “to require a full audit of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the federal reserve banks by the comptroller general of the United States, and for other purposes.”

Thirteen of the 30 pieces of legislation that got a vote this session were rejected. The majority of measures that received approval were federal court nominations.

Senators and representatives running for higher office typically miss many votes during the campaign season. On the Republican side, Sens. Marco Rubio, of Florida, and Ted Cruz, of Texas, have only slightly better attendance records for the year, with Rubio casting three votes and Cruz two.

While Sanders has been in and out of Washington, his Senate staffers and aides continue to push out legislation and announce positions.

He has recently come out against a bill that would block labeling of genetically modified ingredients and called on legislators to fully fund President Barack Obama’s $1.9 billion request to fight the outbreak of the Zika virus.

Josh Miller-Lewis, a Senate Sanders spokesman, said the presidential candidate is “constantly engaged with what’s going on here.”

He said Sanders communicates with staffers every day by email and on the phone about pending legislation. He said the senator comes back for important votes and hearings, including when he returned to Washington to put a hold on Food and Drug Administration commissioner nominee Dr. Robert Califf, citing his close ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Miller-Lewis said constituent work remains constant in the Senate office and that 1,415 Vermonters have been helped since Sanders declared his candidacy for president April 30.

Sanders’ voting record over the entire campaign so far is better. While Rubio missed 115 votes, Sanders has missed just 47 votes in the last year, according to data analyzed from GovTrack.

“He’s working to balance the two jobs as much as possible,” Miller-Lewis said.

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Jasper Craven

About Jasper

Jasper Craven is VTDigger’s political reporter. A Vermont native, he first discovered his love for journalism at the Caledonian Record. He double-majored in print journalism and political science at Boston University, and worked in the Boston Globe’s Metro and Investigative units. While at the Globe he collaborated on Shadow Campus, a three-part investigative series focused on greed and mismanagement in Boston’s off-campus student housing market. The series was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize.
He also spent two years at MuckRock, a news sited dedicated to investigation and analysis of government documents. 

Craven covered Vermont’s U.S. Congressional delegation for the Times Argus in the summer of 2014, and worked as a Metro reporter for the Chicago Tribune before joining the staff of VTDigger.

Email: [email protected]

Follow Jasper on Twitter @Jasper_Craven

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