US Senators running for President

How can someone who is a sitting US Senator spend a full year running for President? Senators have lots of things they need to do so how do these candidates fullfill their senatorial duties while they are out on the road for weeks at a time? Can they use a proxy to vote on bills? Do they fly back to Washington DC every few days to cast votes? Whose minding the store? I would think being a US Senator would be a full time job. Help me understand how this works in real life.

You’re aware that lots of Presidents have run for President, too, right? Not to mention Governors and Vice Presidents and and the occasional Representative. In fact, the majority of recent Presidents were formerly governors who should have been running their states instead of campaigning, and nearly all of them campaigned for a second term while in office.

In any case, most lawmakers who are on the campaign trail skip votes they deem unimportant, and rush back to the capitol to vote on important issues, when Congress is in session.

The Senate calendar shows pretty clearly that the Senate normally is in session three or four days a week (with a few five day weeks thrown in). Even on most of those days, there aren’t any votes scheduled – debates and committee work, yes, but not actual votes.

In most cases, a Senator’s staff does the background work up to and including the actual drafts of legislation. And even though only the actual Senator can vote, Senators on one side of an issue often “pair” with a member on the other side to both be absent during a vote, so they cancel each other out.

All in all, a Senator can be away from Washington for long periods and still function effectively by checking in with the staff.