Bernie Sanders Has A Worse Voting Record Than Rubio Or Cruz

The senator is apparently too busy on the campaign trail to show up to work

When you work two jobs, something's gotta give. — REUTERS
Feb 29, 2016 at 11:37 AM ET

It’s hard to hold down two jobs at once. It’s even harder when one of those jobs is an attempt to win the most important gig in the country. So, what’s a senator running for president do? Most seem to just give up on the pesky Senate thing.

Take Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator missed 96.2 percent of roll call votes since the beginning of the year, worse than the other two senators running for president, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, according to voting records tracked by CSPAN.

Cruz failed to show up for 92.3 percent of votes, and famous vote-skipper Rubio missed 88.5 percent of such votes so far in 2016. They’re all avoiding far more votes than they’ve made: in 2016, Sanders showed up for one of 26 votes, Cruz for two, and Rubio for three.

The only vote Sanders didn’t miss was one in which he voted to invoke cloture (a method of ending debate) on the Federal Reserve Transparency Act 2015, a bill that “would have opened up the Federal Reserve System to a more complete audit.” Sanders favored the bill, sponsored by former GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul, but the Senate blocked it. 

One of the few votes that Cruz and Rubio showed up for was one on the American SAFE Act of 2015, designed to provide greater background checks on Syrian and Iraqi refugees before they are permitted entry to the U.S. (Amnesty International condemned the bill, saying it’s “really about creating unreasonably burdensome bureaucratic hurdles to make it significantly more difficult for refugees to gain asylum.”) That vote passed with a 55 percent majority on January 20. Both Cruz and Rubio supported it. Sanders skipped.

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Rubio’s record of missing votes was frequently a subject of criticism last year. The Hill reported that Rubio had the worst absenteeism of any senator, missing 35 percent of votes in 2015. Lindsey Graham, who ended his White House bid in December, was the second worst, missing 28 percent, ahead of Cruz who skipped 24 percent.

Sanders’ skipping is a relatively new phenomenon; he did comparatively well in 2015, missing just eight percent of votes. (It’s worth noting that senators miss about one percent of votes on average.)

It’s not that unusual for sitting senators running for president to pour tons of their time and energy—or nearly all of it—into primaries and caucuses as election day looms, since they’re flying around the country campaigning and raising money. But it’s looking worse this year than in years past. According to GovTrack, as of February 29, Sanders is actually showing up to work less often than either Barack Obama or John McCain had at this point in 2008.

Despite all of Sanders’ hard work, he had his first big loss on Saturday, when Hillary Clinton snapped up 73.5 percent of the vote at the South Carolina Democratic primary. He’d previously lost to Clinton by narrow margins in Iowa and Nevada and put up a big win in New Hampshire.