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McCain Returns to Senate

At 12:36 p.m. today, the Senate doors were held open today by pages as a stream of senators trudged on to the chamber floor to cast a vote on an immigration bill amendment relating to children of Filipino veterans of World War II - and John McCain (R-Ariz.) was among those senators walking in to vote.

It was McCain's first vote in six weeks, after 46 straight roll calls in which the Arizonan opted for presidential campaign duties instead of casting a vote in the Senate. Capitol Briefing has kept tabs all year on the presidential candidates and the attention they've paid to their congressional duties, paying particular attention to McCain's abandonment of the chamber.

As Michael Shear and I reported earlier this week in the Washington Post, McCain's focus has been almost entirely on fund-raising ever since his first quarter financial report in mid-April showed he'd raised less money than every top-tier candidate in both parties.

Always one of the most sought-after senators by the media, McCain's presence was treated by reporters as if he'd still been an active member of the chamber. No fewer than 16 reporters gathered around McCain peppering him with questions about the immigration bill.

One cable news network reporter asked why McCain had returned for the vote, prompting a string of jokes from the Senator about wanting to see "old friends."

Asked by the cable producer about missing six consecutive weeks of votes, he deadpanned: "Oh my god, is that right? ... It's a nice day, the weather's nice."

[Full disclosure: McCain returned to Washington yesterday afternoon for a meeting with his national finance committee for his presidential campaign, followed by a rooftop fundraiser last night hosted by a lobbying firm. That was followed up today by a breakfast fundraiser here in Washington and then an evening money event, leaving time for senatorial duties.

By Paul Kane  |  May 24, 2007; 3:44 PM ET
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Thanks for keeping tabs on all the candidates. No candidate, Democrat or Republican, should abandon their duties like McCain has done these last couple months.

Posted by: dcnewshound | May 24, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

"Abandonment" - very loaded choice of words. No pretense of journalistic objectivity here! Paul has obviously got it in for McCain for some reason.

No question that McCain has missed a great many votes, though I know of none where his vote would have been critical to the outcome. In fairness, however, he's hardly "abandoned" the Senate. He's been very actively involved in Senate business, especially regarding the immigration bill.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

It's not about "having it in" for McCain. Votes are the most *objective* measure of how involved a senator is. You can talk about how "actively involved" he is all you want, but if he's missing every vote, how is he serving his constituents? You're trying to paint Paul as a partisan to render his point irrelevant -- a classic manuever of those who target either the liberal or conservative media.

To say it's fine because it didn't affect the outcome of any votes is the same old collective action problem that people use to justify not voting. (After all, one vote never makes the difference) If everyone thought they were too important or too busy to show up, no one would vote. And then, we'd have a problem, wouldn't we?

Posted by: dcnewshound | May 24, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

The key fact here is that of the 3 votes that McCain attended today (as of this writing), two of them were defeated 49-48. This means that McCain's vote was essential for keeping the legislation alive, and truly shows the benefit of having Lott on his side. Of the months of votes he's missed, I don't believe any of them would have had a different outcome if he was not there. At least the Senate side of his campaign seems to be running smoothly.

Posted by: midnight | May 24, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

As I recall, there was a fair amount written about how many votes John Kerry missed due to campaignin in 2004. (Of course as a Massachusetts Republican I am clearly in FAVOR of Kerry missing votes.)

I think Mr. Kane's post would have been stronger if he had mentioned how many votes Senator McCain's opponents had missed.

As he always has, McCain will say what he thinks needs to be said and in this case, do what he thinks needs to be done for the betterment of this country.

Posted by: azamatterofact | May 24, 2007 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, dcnewshound, but your attempt to draw parallels between the general elections held in the US and the votes held in the US Senate just doesn't compute. While all constituents in a general election vote in secret, there is nothing anonymous or secret in the Senate votes talked about in this article.
Moreover, There is a small, finite number of voters in the Senate, so anyone can accurately determine whether a single Senator's vote will effect the outcome on the future of a piece of legislation. The general elections may technically have a finite number of voters, but noone can predict whether a race will end up thousands of votes apart or only one vote apart.
Also, while I agree that people will paint others as partisans in order to make someone's point irrelavant as you describe, I don't think thats what the unamed poster was doing here. Mr. Kane has gone beyond merely reporting the facts of McCains voting habits, and has concluded the McCain's behavior constitues abondonment of the Senate. The conclusion that McCain has abondoned the Senate is presented here as if it were a fact that Mr Kane appears to assume we all concede. I, for one, find it interesting that McCain is accused of abandoning the Senate in an article about him voting in the Senate. Obviously he hasn't abondoned the Senate, or he wouldn't be there voting, would he?
I don't mind Mr. Kane displaying a certain bias, but I do mind him assuming that the rest of us agree with it.

Posted by: Patrick Huss | May 25, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Abandon abandoned abandonment abandoning

oops, sorry for the poor spelling....

Posted by: Patrick Huss | May 25, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Gotta say, I'm relatively pro-McCain, but six weeks is inappropriate. Additionally, cussing out your colleagues is absolutely uncalled for. Anybody think he's getting a little old?

Posted by: | May 25, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I am completely in McCain's camp. Very few politicians have done what they think is right for the country, even if it hurt their own political chances, like McCain. True, he has backed off being the point man on TV for the immigration bill but he has not changed his support of this important bill, like Rommney on a host of issues, or Hilary and Edwards on the war, for political convenience. From immigration, to campaign finance, to banning torture and many more issues McCain has supported what I think are good positions for the United States to hold. The fact that he is missing some votes to campaign to lead the country, where he will have an even greater ability to make good reforms, is a small price to pay. Also, as stated above, Kerry, Hilary and the rest are doing the same thing...well except Edwards, Rommney and Gulliani, who have all the time they need to attack sitting lawmakers making tough votes but not offering any alternatives. Viva McCain!

Posted by: John in NYC | May 25, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I certainly hope that the constituents of John McCain are paying close attention. I hope they vote him back into the stone age! John McCain is undoubtedly a maverick at best and a liberal donkey at worst (spelled Republican In Name Only). If he wants to represent illegal immigrants, the governments are already corrupt in other nations, and there is probably a seat ready for him. We need elected officials to represent U.S. citizens and the laws of our nation.

Posted by: Cdalealden | May 25, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

F**k all of you! I know more about the issues than anyone on this blog.

Posted by: John McCain | May 26, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see on the Washington Post Website an ongoing tally of the days missed from their legislative duties and the votes missed by presidential candidates. You mentioned that you are keeping track, but didn't provide a link to a place on your website where we might check out the tally.

Posted by: Elizabeth | May 29, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Elizabeth - not limited to the Pres. candidates, but this list shows a countdown of Senators by number of votes missed...

Posted by: Patrick Huss | May 29, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

So as an Arizonan I condemn Sen Amnesty
John McCain dismal representation of our
State in the US Senate and I will Support
the Recall of both Amnesty John McCain and
Senator Two Face Jon Kyl that is set to
launch the minute McCain and Kyl vote
for Liar in Chief George W Bush-McCain-
Kennedy Leave No Illegal Alien Behind
Amnesty Program,mistakenly labelled as
"Comprehensive Immigration Reform"! McCain and Kyl must go as they now longer even
represent the people of Arizona Or USA!

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