Who’s doing Obama’s Senate job while he’s busy glad-handing his way down the campaign trail?
Q Who’s doing Obama’s Senate job while he’s busy glad-handing his way down the campaign trail?
A The short and unsettling answer is “no one.” Like Clinton and McCain, Obama has missed most of the Senate votes since directing his attention toward garnering the Democratic presidential nomination. Since January 22 (the date of the first Senate vote in Congress’s second session), Obama has participated in 11 of 39 votes. (During the same 39-vote interval, Clinton voted in just three and McCain 13). Putting a call in to Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin’s office, we asked if he’s working overtime to compensate for Obama’s absence. “Senator Durbin will be happy to jump in if necessary, but that hasn’t been needed,” parroted Durbin spokesman John Normoyle after consulting with the senator. “Obama goes back to D.C. for the important votes like military appropriations and votes on significant policy issues,” says University of Chicago political science prof Eric Oliver, adding that casting votes is only a portion of a senator’s job. “While he’s on the road, Obama’s staff maintains the functions of his office and serves his constituency. This isn’t something the Illinois people should be worried about.” Obama may not always be in Washington, but he’s still there for you—sort of.
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