15 senators miss votes despite McConnell's criticism of absentees

15 senators miss votes despite McConnell's criticism of absentees
© Greg Nash

More than a dozen senators missed Monday night votes, despite a lecture last week from leadership about skipping work during the rare August session. 

Fifteen senators — five Democrats and 10 Republicans — did not show up for two votes in the Senate. 

The Senate voted on two amendments to a massive Defense, Health and Human Services, Labor and Education bill. Both proposals were approved 85-0, meaning even if lawmakers had shown up, they wouldn't have changed the outcome of the vote.  

Asked on Monday how many members would show up this week, Senate GOP Whip John CornynJohn CornynGOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford Blumenthal: Kavanaugh nomination should be withdrawn Cornyn takes on O'Rourke over AR-15s MORE (Texas) quipped before the votes: "enough." 

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But the drop in attendance comes after Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSanders hits Feinstein over Kavanaugh allegations: Now it’s clear why she did nothing for months On The Money: Senate approves 4B spending bill | China imposes new tariffs on billion in US goods | Ross downplays new tariffs: 'Nobody's going to actually notice' McConnell tamps down any talk of Kavanaugh withdrawal MORE (R-Ky.) lectured Republicans during a closed-door lunch about poor attendance during a truncated two-day session last week. 

McConnell warned GOP senators on Thursday that without a boost in attendance he would have trouble moving legislation. With Republicans having a slim 51-49 hold on the Senate, the absences effectively make Democrats the majority. 

“He’s rightfully, I think, upset. I wasn’t at lunch but I knew what he was going to say,” said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneMore Dems want focus on job creation than wage growth Google, Apple, Amazon execs to testify at Senate privacy hearing this month Trump gets good news on wages MORE (S.D.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, told The Hill last week.

Though Monday evening votes routinely see more senators absent, the 15 missing is a bump in the number absent compared to the four votes last week. 

Eleven senators missed Wednesday's vote last week. Ten senators missed two votes that were scheduled for Thursday before lunch, while 11 missed the one vote the Senate held on Thursday after closed-door caucus lunches. 

Most of the absences last week were by Republicans, including Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Another recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief R-E-S-P-E-C-T: One legacy of Franklin and McCain is up to us MORE (R-Ariz.) who is battling brain cancer and has been undergoing treatment in Arizona for months.

The drop in attendance comes after McConnell canceled most of the chamber's summer recess, keeping the Senate in for a rare August session. 

GOP leadership faced pressure from both conservatives and the White House to stay in town amid growing frustration about the slow pace of confirmation votes for nominees, and warnings from Trump that he would not sign another omnibus bill ahead of next month's government funding deadline.