Tulsi Gabbard’s ‘Present’ Vote Draws Lots Of Attention — And Criticism
“Gabbard will be remembered for that,” said Casey Burgat, a senior governance fellow at the nonpartisan R Street Institute in Washington, D.C. “She’s now the answer at every Capitol Hill trivia night from here going forward to the question, ‘Who is the only member of Congress to vote ‘present’ during an impeachment vote?’”
“Present” votes are rare in Congress, and typically only used to send a message, said Burgat.
When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for a vote on the Green New Deal in March, Democrats saw it as a ploy to sow division within the caucus. Forty-three Democrats voted “present” as a protest to the politicking and to signal to their progressive colleagues they still supported the intent of the climate bill.
In Gabbard’s case on the Trump impeachment, she stood alone. To Burgat, that indicates she wanted all eyes on her.
“A ‘present’ vote is strategic,” he said. “It’s not that you see the merits on both sides of a particular argument, it’s that you have a bigger message in play. You want the attention of being that singular defector.”