Paul Ryan is due to return to Capitol Hill Thursday for the first time since Mitt Romney selected the Wisconsin Republican as his running mate to vote on a short-term spending plan to keep government operations funded through March.
Ryan, the House Budget chairman, is expected to vote in favor of the plan even though his budget plan passed by the House last spring had almost $20 billion less in spending.
As brief or dramatic as Ryan’s visit may be, recent history reminds us that the return of a vice presidential candidate to his congressional perch, while not unprecedented — Joe Biden did it — is fairly uncommon.
“It was one of his first votes since becoming the Democratic vice presidential nominee, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been keeping a hand in Senate business from the campaign trail,” reporter Kristin Harly with Biden’s hometown News Journal wrote on Oct. 2, 2008. (Harly noted that several Biden-sponsored measures had passed or moved through the committee process in the Senate.)
As was his custom, Biden took the train from his Delaware home to Washington: “Holding a cup of coffee and talking on his cell phone, Biden boarded the train around 6:30 p.m., with Secret Service agents at his side. Later, he made a brief public appearance, walking to the dining car to shake hands with passengers and chat,” Harly reported.
The bank bailout measure passed the Senate 74 to 25 with support from Biden, then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and his 2008 rival, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
But other recent vice presidential candidates have stayed away from Capitol Hill after being nominated.
In 2004, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) chose then-Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) as his running mate on July 6. After that, neither Kerry nor Edwards returned to the Senate to vote on anything. The two missed all the votes until Nov. 16, after Election Day had come and gone.
Same thing in 2000, when Vice President Al Gore tapped Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) as his number two. According to travel and vote records, Lieberman never returned to Washington during the final months of the 2000 campaign to vote on bills — partly because Senate Democrats enjoyed a larger majority at the time.
Among presidential candidates, McCain continued to serve in the Senate while mounting his 2008 presidential campaign. In 1996, then-Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (R-Kan.) resigned his seat in order to focus full-time on his campaign against President Bill Clinton.
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