Presidential races

’16 hopefuls rack up Senate absences

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GOP presidential contenders in the Senate are already racking up absences. 

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who are considering presidential bids, as well as presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-Texas), have missed more votes than nearly every other senator so far this year, according to data from 

Out of the three, Rubio — expected to make his candidacy official on Monday — is the worst offender, according to Senate records, having missed 25, or 18.5 percent, of roll call votes since January. That puts him in the 98th percentile on votes skipped for the 114th Congress so far. 

{mosads}Cruz isn’t far behind missing 21 (15.6 percent) roll call votes, while Graham missed 18, or 13.3 percent. GovTrack places the two Republican senators in the 97 and 96th percentiles, respectively, for missing votes.

The only senator who has missed more votes than the three Republicans is Minority Leader Harry Reid. The Nevada Democrat was in an exercise accident earlier this year causing him to be absent from weeks of Senate work and miss 52, or 38.5 percent of this year’s roll call votes.

It’s also a sharp contest from 2016 candidate Sen. Rand Paul. The Kentucky Republican, who announced his presidential bid earlier this week, has missed only two votes so far this year.

The uptick in votes comes as Graham and Rubio are weighing presidential bids, with Rubio scheduled to make a “big announcement” in Florida on Monday. Cruz, meanwhile, was the first Republican to officially jump into the race.

In response to questions about Graham’s missed votes, a spokesperson said that “Senator Graham has made 95.5 percent of the votes during his Senate service.”

That, however, still puts him far and above most current senators, who on average have missed only 1.5 percent of votes during their time in office, according to GovTrack.

It’s also not the first time the senators’ attendance records have come into question.

Rubio has missed 8 percent of all roll call votes since starting in the Senate in 2011. But 2015 so far marks the largest percent of votes Rubio has missed in a single quarter since mid-2012.

Brooke Sammon, a spokesperson for Rubio, said that it’s “not unusual for presidential candidates to occasionally miss Senate business.”

Rubio’s attempt to balance his presidential ambitions and his Senate duties came under the media spotlight earlier this year when he missed voting for passage of the Keystone XL pipeline to fundraise in California.


Most of the votes the senators have missed are procedural, but they’ve also skipped votes on nominations, as well on politically sensitive issues. Cruz, for example, missed a vote on a budget amendment urging support for Israel.

The amendment is non-binding, but Cruz’s absence comes as support for Israel has become increasingly politically contentious amid heightened relations between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Cruz, on his presidential website, touts his support for Israel, saying he “successfully pressured the Obama Administration to lift its unprecedented FAA ban on flights to Israel after exposing the move as, in essence, an economic boycott of our strongest ally in the Middle East.”

Cruz’s campaign hit back at idea that his campaign is impacting his Senate duties, saying the senator’s “top priority is to represent and serve the people of Texas.”

“Senator Cruz’s top priority is to represent and serve the people of Texas,” said Rick Tyler, a spokesperson for Cruz’s campaign. “He has been able to balance that responsibility while seeking the Republican nomination for President.”

Tyler pointed to Cruz’s attendance of a Purple Heart award ceremony at Ft. Hood in Texas Friday, saying he has “worked very hard to ensure that the heroes wounded or killed by an act of terrorism were honored.”

But Cruz recently received heavy criticism for his attendance record, amid reports that he’s attended just three out of 16 public Armed Services Committee hearings this year.

His missed roll call votes also mark the largest percent of votes that he’s missed in a single quarter since 2013, when he skipped 16.3 percent of votes between October and December.

The three senators’ frequent absences could come back to bite them if they have to face off against Hillary Clinton, widely considered the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Clinton, who made an unsuccessful attempt at president in 2008, missed 2.4 percent of Senate roll call votes between January and March 2007, according to GovTrack.

The former New York senator, however, didn’t have a perfect attendance record. She missed 9.5 percent of roll call votes between January 2001 and January 2009, compared the 2 percent average of senators serving in January 2009, according to GovTrack.

If Clinton is any indication, the trio’s records will likely miss even more votes as they get further into the 2016 heat, trying to juggle traveling to key states with their Senate duties.

While Clinton missed only three votes at this point in the 2008 cycle, between October and December of 2007 she missed nearly every roll call vote, only making 14 out of 85 votes.


Tags Harry Reid Hillary Clinton Lindsey Graham Marco Rubio Rand Paul Ted Cruz
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