Longest Senate Vote Ever?
Wednesday’s prolonged roll call vote to limit debate on B. Todd Jones to become the permanent ATF director fell about 15 minutes short of the longest example in recent years.
While there are no official statistics on the subject, a February 2009 vote on that year’s stimulus act conference report was held open for about 5 hours and 15 minutes to accommodate senators with two different scheduling conflicts.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn. — a Modern Orthodox Jew — voted before the Sabbath began at sundown, while Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown had to fly back to the Capitol after attending his mother’s memorial service. Such extended votes are a good reminder that the typical 15 minutes is merely the minimum time for a roll call vote.
The Senate Historical Office notes that any discussion of the longest votes should be applied to modern Senate practice, since vote time limitation had been less stringent in the past. The Historical Office noted a 1955 vote that ran for several hours because Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey had a delayed flight. Lyndon B. Johnson, the majority leader at the time, kept the vote open until Humphrey’s return.
Of course, Humphrey would later serve as vice president under Johnson.
Speaking of vice presidents, the current occupant of that office once caused a Senate vote that ran for more than an hour. In 2001, Joseph R. Biden Jr. was delayed in arriving for the confirmation vote of John Ashcroft to be attorney general because he was attending a funeral.
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