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

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  • edward letourneau

    Would his vote have changed the outcome on any bill?

  • bruce wilkie

    Pretty hard to run for prez while working full time in Washington.

    • Randy Jorgensen

      Agree, and if you are going to run you should step down.

  • Walter Cooper

    He is up for re-election to the Senate in 2018. I wonder if he will run again should he lose the nominating contest?

    Although I admire the determination (and energy level) of his present campaign, the campaign itself–again, should he lose–would be a capstone of sorts to his career.

  • Peter Everett

    Hope he’s not taking his salary while absent. Oops, that would be the ethical thing to do. I forgot he’s a politician, they don’t know the meaning of ethical.

  • Oliver Steinberg

    Sanders is the last patriot standing; his heroic effort, like that of Fighting Bob La Follette in 1924, is bound to shorten his life and may be the last act of his career of public service. From here in the hinterland (Minnesota) there’s no doubt he serves both his state and country better by barnstorming the nation with his “wake up” message than by futile and symbolic attendance in the Senate. And it’s obvious, Senate GOP agenda is nothing but obstruction anyhow. And remember ol’ Strom Thurmond? He no doubt collected his salary, when he was absent for years. I wouldn’t begrudge Bernie his pittance, if I had the honor of living in his state . . . whether you appreciate it or not, he has earned every dime.

  • Mark Montalban

    In 2008 Obama also missed nearly all his Senate roll calls and I didnt see it brought up as an issue by mainstream media. The same in 2004 with Sen. Kerry’s campaigning. Unless VT Digger can provide a transporter a la Star Trek, this news is of no value to any of us.

    • Carmen Borden

      He should step down, honestly. Bob Dole did this in 1996 when he was Senate Majority Leader. He resigned to focus full-time on the campaign. Frankly, anyone who is currently running for higher office and is in a full-time legislative or gubernatorial role should resign and focus full-time on the campaign.

  • So Vtdigger.com is now just another Establishment tool. This is what you report when our own Vetmont senator is out working tirelessly for the people and on the day of the Michigan primary after he swept 3 of 4 states. No more donations from my stressed budget.

    • christopher hamilton

      Reporting news as indisputable facts without rendering an opinion is called “journalism” and VTDigger is by far the best source we have. Bernie is doing fine without anyone shooting the messenger, here.

  • Pam Ladds

    There are some issues really worth raising and some that have the appearance of just being mean! This belongs in the latter category. Like Bernie or not he raising issues that need to be raised, He is changing the political dialog across the country. So he missed a few votes?

  • Peter Everett

    All may sound fine now, question is what will Bernie’s programs cost the next generation. Thomas Jefferson said “it’s immoral to leave the next generation with the previous generations debt”.
    Does Bernie look that far forward? After all, he won’t be around when the debt comes in. Do any look 10 – 20 years into the future. Many of us won’t be around. Should we care what we leave behind? I do, and, it scares the hell out of me.

    • Barry Kade

      The debt would be a lot smaller had Bernie’s vote on the Iraq invasion been in the majority. And smaller yet, if as President he follows through on his promise to cut military spending. Vt Digger reported it as straight news, without an editorial condemnation. How one treats this piece of news appears to be totally dependent on how one feels about Bernie’s campaign.
      Michael Moore’s latest film, Where To Invade Next, is the best advertisement for Bernie’s ideas. We are turning ourselves into a Third World Nation. Nobody is doing it to us and Trump can’t bully his way out of it. We need focus on the issues that matter and not be concerned with a candidates hair, sweat or hand size “if you know what I mean.”
      If Bernie missed any important votes, that would be an issue. Apparently he has not. So it’s should not be an issue. But it is still news that should be reported.

      • Peter Everett

        The Federal budget is approximately 70 – 80% to cover entitlements. Unfortunately, the government considers Medicare and Social Security entitlements. This, even though people paid into these two programs.
        Now, if getting rid of pork and fraudulent claims by those not entitled to receive benefits, that could help reduce spending.
        Another point that I was unaware of until last week. People think that just because they paid into Social Security the government will honor that. Seems the Supreme Court ruled a while back that the government is under no contractual obligation to continue the program. It can stop benefits any time it sees fit to (they won’t do that because those in power would lose their jobs…voted out). We have a contractual obligation to pay into the system, but, the government doesn’t. Does that seem fair to you?
        Other than the deficit that everyone talks about, there is almost $150 TRILLION in Unfunded liabilities (basically ally, to cover entitlement programs.
        Time voters stop taking politicians at their word. These politicians rank right up there with lawyers and used car salesmen(women) as the lowest of the low. Research all you, don’t believe anything from ANY politician. That is how we got into this mess. Stupid, uneducated voters are what the politicians believe we are. On this, they are correct. Help change this.

        • sandra bettis

          Peter – please ck your facts – the military budget is 54% of the federal budget and I’m not sure what you consider ‘entitlement’ but social sec and unemp are 3%. (www.nationalpriorities.org) Your claim that 70 to 80% of the federal budget is for entitlements is WAY OFF.

          • Jon Corrigan

            I sincerely wish most people could understand the difference between discretionary spending and the total federal budget. Sandra, the military budget is 16% of the total federal budget; healthcare is 24% and Social Security is 24%. The 54% you cite is part of the discretionary budget (which the Congress and the White House can negotiate). The discretionary budget is around $1.2 trillion, while the total budget is roughly $4.0 trillion. Hope this helps.

          • Peter Everett

            Anything that we pay into I do NOT consider an entitlement. I call programs that people receive benefits, withOUT paying into as entitlements. There are many, many people who rightfully deserve the aid that is provided. There are also many, many people who abuse these programs. Our (that’s yours and mine) government has a fiduciary responsibility to see that these programs are running efficiently, with as little waste as possible.
            Just like the parent administration does, government turns it’s head in the other direction when it doers want to enforce something. Hate to tell you this, not only is my money being wasted…yours is also.
            I can’t speak for you, but, I worked my entire life for what I have obtained. I get really upset when I see government waste money that was FORCEFULLY (voluntary is nothing more than BS) taken from people and wasted. There is far too much of this going on. This is one reason people are looking elsewhere for people to vote for, come November. Unfortunately, I see no real, outstanding person to vote for. Neither party affords people with any REAL change in government behavior. It may, actually, become worse.
            Again, as I stated previously, I won’t be around when the real crap it’s the fan. I will, most likely, be fertilizer or worm food. Heaven help the world my grandkids will be living in.
            History has proven that many times when a country collapses, then next one is far worse.

  • fred moss

    I love it. Look at the Bernie supporters cringe at this. Digger is only reporting facts.

    • Jamie Garvey

      But these facts are irrelevant. What presidential candidate who is also a member of congress has a good record of voting while they’re out on the campaign trail? None. This is not a bombshell. And no, he shouldn’t step down while he’s running because if he loses the nomination and/or election, he should be able to return to his job and continue to work for the people of VT as he has done so well throughout his career. It’s to our benefit that he is able to return to the Senate if he loses.

  • Ron Pulcer

    On one hand, Bernie missed 29 or 30 Senate votes. On the other hand, of his constituents in Vermont who voted in the Dem. primary on Super Tuesday, he got 86% of the vote.

    It’s likely that any bill that passes the current Congress could get vetoed by President Obama, so if Bernie misses a vote, there is always the Prez veto. I’m sure that Bernie and staff are looking at the big picture on each of these bills, as to what the vote counts might be. I’m sure if it is critical vote, he will adjust his campaign schedule accordingly, and fly to DC if necessary. As the article mentions, he is in contact with his Senate staff on regular basis.

    Also, just like many Vermonters, Bernie now has “2 jobs”!

  • David Dempsey

    Vermont could enact a resign to run law like many states already have.