Elizabeth Warren

Did Elizabeth Warren Forget She's a Senator?

The presidential campaign seems to be Warren's priority, despite the fact that she's being paid to represent the residents of Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate.

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As a United States senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren is earning $174,000 a year. The least she could do is show up for work.

Instead, Senator Warren's recent absenteeism has me—a Boston resident and biographer of Samuel Adams—upset about what Adams might have recognized as a twist on taxation without representation. If Warren doesn't bother to vote, her constituents, including me and millions of other citizens of the Bay State, are effectively deprived of a say in the Senate.

That's exactly what has been happening. The first two weeks of November, there were 14 roll call votes in the Senate. Warren was absent for each and every one. Nor was this phenomenon limited to November. There were four roll call votes on October 31; Warren didn't show up for a single one of those, either. She's missed at least the past 23 votes in a row. According to ProPublica, she's missed more than four out of every ten votes this year. According to GovTrack, she missed 70.2 percent of the votes from July through September of 2019 and has missed 95.3 percent of the votes in October and November of 2019.

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), Cory Booker (D–N.J.), and Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), who are also running for president, have also missed a lot of votes, but that's not my problem. They aren't my senators. It must be said, too, that Sens. Michael Bennet (D–Colo.) and Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.) either take their responsibilities as senators more seriously than Warren does or they take their presidential campaigns less seriously than she does. Whatever their motives, Bennet and Klobuchar have been better about showing up for the work they were elected to do.

Warren could give her flagging presidential campaign a boost and signal some respect for the voters of Massachusetts by following in the footsteps of Senator Robert Dole, a Republican who resigned from the Senate in 1996 to devote himself full time to his presidential campaign against Bill Clinton.

If Warren isn't willing to take that step voluntarily, the governor of Massachusetts, Republican Charlie Baker, could try offering her some incentives by promising to fill Warren's seat by appointing a Democrat until a special election can be held. Baker could appoint his own predecessor as governor, Deval Patrick, who might agree in return to end the presidential campaign that could siphon votes from Warren in New Hampshire. Or Baker could appoint the man Patrick appointed to fill John Kerry's seat, Mo Cowan, who is widely liked and respected on both sides of the aisle. Or Baker could appoint Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D–Mass.), a former student of Warren's who has endorsed Warren's presidential campaign and who has also announced plans to challenge the other senator from Massachusetts, Ed Markey.

Some might complain that it's a double standard to expect Warren to resign from the Senate to seek the presidency. After all, President Trump campaigns for re-election while also serving as president. If it's okay for Trump to do two jobs simultaneously—president and presidential candidate—why isn't it okay for Warren to do the same?

The executive function is different from the legislative function. Trump can delegate certain tasks to his vice president or cabinet members. But only a senator can vote in the Senate. Warren's chronic absenteeism demonstrates that she's not taking that responsibility seriously. Sure, she's way more left-wing than I am, but even if I don't necessarily agree with how she'd be voting, I'd still like my state to be represented.

The issue is all the more acute given that the Senate may soon be pressed into function as, in essence, a jury deciding whether to convict the president in an impeachment proceeding. How is Warren—or, for that matter, Sanders, Booker, Harris, or the rest of them—supposed to serve as an impeachment juror while also campaigning for the president's job? The competing time demands will be hard to manage, and it makes it even harder to take an impeachment trial seriously when six of the 100 jurors are announced presidential candidates hoping to oust Trump through the electoral process.

Warren got elected in 2018 in part on the basis of a pledge to be a full-time senator. "Warren: I'll serve my full Senate term if reelected," was the headline Politico put over a 2018 news article that began, "Elizabeth Warren said she would serve her full six-year term in the Senate if reelected in November." The article quoted Warren as saying, "I am not running for president of the United States. That's my plan." The senator wasn't pressed on the definition of "serve," but, as a Massachusetts voter, I certainly didn't imagine that by "serve" she meant she'd miss so many of the votes.

It's one thing if a politician falls ill or has pressing family obligations that require missing work. But Warren has decided to spend months interviewing for a job other than the one that she currently has.

Ultimately, the decision on whether to stay in the Senate or resign while seeking the presidency is Warren's to make. But as one of the people she's ostensibly representing, I'd sure prefer someone who treats it as a full-time job by showing up when it's time to vote.

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  1. More importantly: does Lizzie own more than one outfit?

    1. The pantsuit worked so well for Hillary, there’s no way Liz is going to try something else.

      1. I’m not sure she could pull off a Clinton blue dress…

    2. Nobody needs more than one outfit.

      /Comrade Sanders

      1. My eyes are tired and I first read your quote as attributed to Colonel Sanders, who I don’t think owned more than one outfit either…

        1. I also read it that way and thought the same thing “One white suit seems to be plenty.”

    3. She’s wearing the older lady uniform. That’s all she needs.

    4. That’s the most important thing: her outfits. Also- Does Trump have more than one red tie?

  2. The least she could do is show up for work.

    The last thing I want right now is this turd thinking she represents me.

  3. More to the point, why isn’t Senate Majority Leader McConnell doing anything about it? The Senate has rules and she’s flouting them. His job is to enforce them.

    1. She Persisted.

    2. Never interrupt your enemy when they are making a mistake.

      1. I suspect it’s mostly this, although there’s an element of stones and glass houses as well.

  4. Elizabeth Warren is one of the leading candidates attempting to prevent the worst President ever from winning reelection. I can forgive her if she doesn’t have perfect attendance in the Senate.

    #LibertariansForWarren

    1. She’s a bit late. Obama already left.

    2. Pretty sure Woodrow Wilson died a while ago.

    3. Hey Slowpoke, Martin Van Buren is dead by now.

      1. TRUMP IS THE WORST PRESIDENT … AND BIGGEST FRAUD … EVER.

        Campaigned on a 60% tax cut for HIMSELF, and a tiny sliver of the 1%.
        He’d have been a billionaire paying a marginal (top) income tax rate of … 15%! What’s your marginal rate?

        Campaigned on paying off the entire federal debt in 8 years.
        Instead has ALREADY added as much 8-year debt (CBO 2024 forecast) as Obama added AFTER 8 years.

        Even WORSE:
        Obama inherited the second worst economy in 80 years,
        Trump inherited the longests recovery EVER for an incoming President … from Obama!

        Is everyone enjoying this Republican New Deal?

        1. Yep. My paychecks are higher and my 401k balance is way the fuck up since he was elected.

          1. EVASION

  5. Booker is my Senator. You think I’m upset about him missing votes???

    Nothing Warren votes for could be a good thing.

    1. The truth is, with partisanship, does her presence matter as a minority?

  6. How is Warren—or, for that matter, Sanders, Booker, Harris, or the rest of them—supposed to serve as an impeachment juror while also campaigning for the president’s job?

    Why do they need to show up for anything but the final votes?
    Its not as though how they would vote will in any way be influenced by the evidence presented.

    1. If they want it to look less like a circus, they should be in their seats pretending to care about what’s going on.

      That the jurors know how they’re going to vote before any evidence has been presented is a different problem for a different thread.

      1. Everyone else knows how they are going to vote before any evidence is presented as well.

        Them being there and pretending to care won’t really be fooling anybody.

      2. Will their respective campaigns benefit from the impeachment? Seems like they should recuse themselves.

        1. Seems like they should recuse themselves.

          Why would you NEED to stack the deck?

  7. Appropriate karma for Massachusetts inflicting Warren on the country.

  8. I would look at her not showing up as a plus. Hell, I’d be happy if they all took a few years off.

  9. “but that’s not my problem. They aren’t my senators.”

    So Reason is allowing its articles to be written for personal problems ?

    1. At this point I’m starting to wonder if you’re secretly a parody of some of the more strident critics of Reason in the commentariat.

      1. That was, almost self-evident, ridicule.

  10. Sure, she’s way more left-wing than I am, but even if I don’t necessarily agree with how she’d be voting, I’d still like my state to be represented.

    Maybe, but then again, she is way too far to the left to represent me. I’m sort of glad she’s not there. After this behavior, if the people of Massachusetts want to re-elect her to the Senate again in 2024 (I’m betting she won’t be President), then they are fools. But, that’s not news.

  11. The last thing you want from an Elizabeth Warren is legislation.

    1. Nudes are the last thing. Legislation a close second.

  12. I voted for “two-terms Collins” on her second term. But not on her third. At least she never, and I mean never, missed a vote. For that she has my respect. Yes, sarcasmic actually respects a politician. Shoot me now.

  13. I think we can all agree that the entire U.S. is better off without Massachusetts having a say in the senate. In fact, if Massachusetts could just secede from the union, that’d be great.

    1. I have good friends in The Commonwealth. Isn’t their fault their government sucks.

      1. I would say it is, for their voting, but it’s such an uphill battle at this point.

  14. It is interesting that someone can essentially be paid by the government for running for President, though, even while I’m glad she isn’t showing up.

    Given how long Presidential runs are taking these days, it seems insane that someone can be a Senator for at least a year while doing nothing related to that job.

    Really makes you wonder if switching to popular votes for Senators was such a great idea. The Senate was never supposed to be just another branch of Congress voted into office by popular support, yet here we are.

    1. It was a terrible idea, but necessary to establish the Progressive Era.
      It’s completely antithetical to the constitutional design of the legislature, and has done more than maybe anything else to all but eliminate state interests and entrench federal tyranny

    2. Repeal the 17th amendment. That will probably solve the absenteeism problem.

      1. We can’t repeal it unless we have the votes. We can’t get the votes unless we can “sell the sizzle.” We can’t do that … if we have no clue what we lost … so cannot sell what we’d regain by repealing the 17th.

        Nothing personal. Ignorance of the 17th — and what we lost — has been widespread, for over a century … and you may not believe how simple it is.
        I first published 25 years ago.
        Short version
        If state legislatures appoint the Senate … And Senate passage is required to pass all bills …. see it??

        States had absolute veto power over the size,scope and actions of the federal government. DUH

        How in hell did we lose something so simple? We lost it because, then as now, nobody knew what we’d lose …so could not defend it,
        Now the longer version, with a link to the FULL version.
        Reinventing Federalism (Means do it even better this time)

        It was the 17th Amendment – the direct election of Senators – that dismantled the most powerful check and balance created by the Founders. … .

        We have checks and balances within the federal government, as each branch wields and defends its power. Power lust by one branch intrudes on power lust in another. But those internal checks cannot control the overall size and scope of the federal government.

        ****To provide an external check on central government, state governments, as a group, retained the power to veto any and all federal legislation. That veto power resided in the U.S. Senate, which originally represented state legislatures.

        Originally, federal Senators were hired and fired by state legislators. What that meant, and what we lost with the 17th Amendment, has largely faded from our collective memory.

        To illustrate: Imagine yourself a U. S. Senator, beholden to your state legislature. Would you blackmail your own bosses into a 55 MPH speed limit? How many unfunded mandates would you vote for? Would you tell your bosses how to run their welfare program, or their schools? Would your bosses need a ”federal waiver” on any-thing you voted for? Would there be a federal income tax? Or a Federal Reserve Act?

        ***That was power – real power – over federal expansion. It was automatic – wired into the system. And it worked. The 17th Amendment was the first example of that fraud we now call ”power to the people.”

        ***Power over government was not transferred to the people. It was dismantled. That too was intentional.

        The Founders would laugh at our notions of People Power, with its endless screeching to ”get involved.” If we must get that involved, the entire concept of representative government has collapsed.

        The genius of representative government is that we don’t have to be that involved. When the system is broken, we the owners hire different people. When that doesn’t work, and it hasn’t, we change the system. But we should never, as owners, get bogged down in menial tasks intended for the hired help.

        (Copyright 1994-2005 by Liberty Issues)

        Any questions

        1. Link to full version didn’t work. If THIS one doesn’t, there will be another 🙂

          http://www.libertyissues.com/federalism.htm

  15. Is this news? Or even worthy of an article?

    Yes, current occupants of Congress will skip their Job when running for President.

    1. As pointed out, not all of them. Just the evil ones.

    2. Yes. It is news. Most non incumbents dont pull on a six figure tax payer funded job to pay them to campaign, see Tlaib. in fact campaign rules bar most people from collecting paychecks unless they own the business.

  16. Isn’t she pulling down a salary from Harvard too? A great combination of “double-dipping” and a “no show” at the same time while she goes on the warpath (oops, sorry) against the self-employed.

  17. The presidential campaign seems to be Warren’s priority, despite the fact that she’s being paid to represent the residents of Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate.

    Fuck off. She’s paid to represent the State of Massachusetts, not the residents thereof. That’s why each state gets 2 senators apiece, because all states are equally sovereign. It’s bullshit like this that gets people whining about the unfairness of the Electoral College and why should Wyoming get just as many Senate-based votes as California – because of dumb shits like you who don’t understand the fundamental difference between the House and the Senate and why “the United States” is properly plural rather than singular.

    Okay, maybe I’m a bit harsh, but goddammit it pisses me off when somebody who really ought to know better repeats a common error and you have to wonder if it’s an inadvertent mistake or a deliberate misrepresentation.


    1. She’s paid to represent the State of Massachusetts, not the residents thereof.

      Except she isn’t elected by the State of Massachusetts, they changed it so she’s directly elected by popular vote. You’re not wrong that’s what the Senate is supposed to be, but that was gutted quite a while back.

    2. So you agree that we should repeal the 17th amendment and no long directly elect Senators anymore? Or are you just missing the part where they’re voted by the citizens of a state not by the state?

      1. One way to address all that, with no constitutional glitches, was posted here
        .
        https://reason.com/2019/11/18/did-elizabeth-warren-forget-shes-a-senator/#comment-8018893

  18. Ever hear of the recall process?

  19. If Warren doesn’t bother to vote, her constituents, including me and millions of other citizens of the Bay State, are effectively deprived of a say in the Senate.

    Given how she votes, she’s probably doing you a favor.

  20. Lizzie Warren is a compulsive liar. Who knew?

  21. The executive function is different from the legislative function. Trump can delegate certain tasks to his vice president or cabinet members. But only a senator can vote in the Senate.

    Actually, a senator can effectively delegate her vote by finding someone who would have voted the other way and making an agreement whereby that person abstains, thus replicating the result that would occur if both senators were present and voting (canceling each other’s votes). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pair_(parliamentary_convention)#United_States

  22. She’s only 1/1,024 Senator, but identifies as full-blooded Senator to collect the full salary.

  23. I thought Reason contributors didn’t vote.

  24. New rule: everyone gets only one chance to run for any and all public offices. Lose once and you’re done. Win once, serve, and go home (or some cushy lobbyist job).

    1. New rule: People don’t get to decide who other people can vote for. If they like their despicable sleazebags, they can keep their despicable sleazebags.

  25. I think we really need to revisit the term lengths for these offices. When they were set up, it was much more difficult to organize the voting process, and longer to commute back and forth to the various states.
    And when the supreme Court starts interpreting laws based on results “at the ballot box”, we need more opportunities to have our say at that box.

  26. Some libertarian magazine that wants politicians showing up for work.

    1. Why not, Sweaty …. err, Sweetie?

  27. If you are unsatisfied as to Senator Warren’s work representing you in the Senate, may I suggest you vote for somebody else next time she runs for the Senate?

    1. Well, they’ll be voting for her next year for Prez. It’s not like they could vote for Trump, or risk getting Trump elected by throwing away their vote on the LP ticket. (Well, they might vote for Trump, but you’d never get them to admit that with a blowtorch and a pair of pliers – they’d never again see a cocktail party invite if anybody ever found out.)

      1. Was there a point to this incoherent rant?

        1. Is there ever?

  28. So all the senators running for president miss votes, but we have an article about one of them because you live in her state.

    Not an ideal situation for any of the many senators running for president. Maybe campaigns should be briefer. But it would take a law.

    1. Yeah, Tony, we should make a law limiting the amount of time people can campaign for office. Let’s call it the Gut the Freaking First Amendment act.

      After GFFA’s passed you can work on prohibiting people from banding together and using their money to buy campaign ads. You could call it the Anti-Citizens United Gut the Freaking First Amendment Again Perpetual Job Security for Incumbents Act.

      After ACUGFFAAPJSIA, you should go to work on the 2nd Amendment. After all, guns are scary, and only cousin-fuckers have them, amirite?

    2. A law? Why not the parties setting up the timelines accordingly?

  29. Why should Lizzie be any different than her supporters? The vast majority of them around here choose not to work either-they are mostly hipster/boho stay at home moms with rich husbands or trustfundarians.

  30. I never complain when Congressthings leave DC to campaign or whatever. We’d all be better off if they ditched work 11 months out of the year, maybe 12.

    1. Could we cut their salary by 87% if they work only 1 month? 🙂

  31. Good point about the senators serving as jurors in an impeachment trial. The ones running for president would surely recuse themselves, right?

    I mean, good luck to an ordinary person being picked to serve on a jury where they would clearly stand to gain a major advantage if the defendant gets convicted. They’d be excused immediately.

    Just because you’re a politician doesn’t mean you’re above the law, does it? Oh, wait.

    1. The ones running for president would surely recuse themselves, right?

      THE STUPID FOUNDERS NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT!!!
      Amend the Constitution, Sparky.

  32. DAMN! Just when I thought Reason could not sink any lower into the alt-right sewer

    Yes, the executive branch (President) is different than the legislative branch (Senate). … RUNNING THE COUNTRY IS A FUCKING FULL-TIME JOB, NOT 14 FUCKING VOTES IN TWO WEEKS.

    . Trump can delegate certain tasks to his vice president or cabinet members.

    LAME
    1) Which tasks?
    2) How much time to cast 14 votes IN TWO WEEKS?

    Warren is an ass. But, libertarians do not take partisan sides.
    Because Left – Right = Zero.
    As proven here.

    1. Damn, and I was hoping you’d pulled an Epstein.

      1. Instead, I yanked your chain.
        I’ll also note you did not challenge a word I said.

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  34. If the people of MA don’t like the fact their Senator does not vote, they have the ballot box to remedy the problem.

  35. The executive function is different from the legislative function. Trump can delegate certain tasks to his vice president or cabinet members. But only a senator can vote in the Senate.

    Presidential work can also be done almost anywhere, including on board Air Force One (whether on the ground or in the air) while voting in the Senate can only be done in the Senate chambers

  36. I agree with this author 100%. Kamala Harris from Ca is one of my 2 senators and like Warren is not properly representing my interests. I have belived for a long time that for a politician to run for an office they should be required to resign from any current position.

    1. How come the Libertarian Party does not try to become a major player?
      Why not run candidates for local offices, like mayors and sheriff and district attorney?
      Then statewide offices like Attorney General, Agricultural Commissioner, and Governor.
      Then a few Senators and Representatives.
      Finally really try to win a President.
      Right now the L P is not even in the picture

      1. Because they’ve been destroyed by anti-gumint gooberism. same as the movement. Which is why the entire libertarian establishment has no policy solutions … on anything … nothing on taxes … nothing on health care …nothing on governance .. nothing on entitlements … NOTHING.

        Behind the curtain, like in Oz, the An-caps, Rothbardians, Miseans and their ilk say seeking government office is a lust for power … conspiring with statists.
        In other words, the wackos say we should NOT seek public office until after we have majority …. IN PUBLIC OFFICE!!

        Bitches about government failures, but cannot show how to do ANYTHING better than now! (Snarling “Git gummint out” does NOTHING .. and would get less than 10% of the vote!)

        A free society will ERUPT spontaneously. But THEIR libertarian society is the OPPOSITE of a free society!

        Now just a cult, like the Davidians, Moonies and Jim Jones People’s Temple … when Americans are open to even radical change, which happens only once or twice per century.

  37. I agree with the author and note that Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker was AWOL for several months running for President in 2015. Running for President is a full time job. Unless you are running for reelection you should not be doing another job.

  38. This is really a cheap shot. The fact is that politicians routinely campaign while drawing a paycheck for the office they hold. It’s totally unexceptional.

    I can buy an argument that this is a bad idea, but it’s common practice, so singling out Warren for it is ridiculous and dishonest.

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