Kristen M. Clark

Return of the presidential truants

WASHINGTON -- Yesterday was the first time since September that all 100 senators voted at once -- mostly due to the high truancy rate of presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton of New York, Barack Obama of Illinois and John McCain of Arizona.

 

After 14 hours and 27 minutes of voting, the Senate approved a $3 trillion 2008-09 budget early this morning. Partisan differences spawned dozens of amendments to the original proposal, resulting in 44 separate votes that kept the Senate in session until nearly 2 a.m. today.

 

But just because the entire Senate was present in the chamber yesterday, that doesn't mean all 100 of them were there for each vote. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, missed 22 of the 44 votes -- a startling number considering all three presidential contenders broke from their campaign schedules specifically to add weight in a 50-49 Democratic-leaning Senate. In comparison, Obama missed just one of the day's votes and Clinton missed none.

 

Although McCain missed half the votes, he was present for the rigidly partisan decisions on the alternative minimum tax and the high-profile (but failed) attempt to ban congressional earmarks for one year.

 

In all fairness, Clinton, Obama and McCain have all been distracted in the past months from the daily operations of the Senate, each having missed more than a third of all recorded votes since Jan . 1. There have been 85 votes so far in 2008. Out of those, Clinton skipped out on 37, the most of the trio. McCain has been absent for 40 votes and Obama has missed the least, at 31.

 

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Kristen M. Daum in Washington, D.C.

Posted by John Riley on March 14, 2008 3:41 PM

March 14, 2008

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