On Wednesday, a group of Senate Democrats launched a lengthy and spirited filibuster to pressure Congress into taking action to prevent gun violence. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wasn't at the filibuster, but he tweeted his support throughout the day in absentia. The lively filibuster continued for more than 12 hours on Wednesday — and Sanders' fellow Senate Democrats showed few signs of slowing down as the clock crept toward Thursday.
Although he's a senator with a seat around the floor where the action took place on Wednesday, Sanders remained away from the Capitol. That's not unusual or unexpected for a presidential candidate. After all, he may not be the so-called "presumptive nominee," but he's made it clear that he won't concede to rival Hillary Clinton just yet. To keep his campaign alive, Sanders probably needs to focus more on votes from superdelegates than from senators.
That's not to say that Sanders turned his back on his colleagues; on the contrary, Sanders tweeted throughout the day from his senatorial Twitter account (rather than the campaign account that you're probably more likely to follow). Like many of his fellow senators, Sanders called for a ban on the purchase of military-style weapons, like the rifle used in Sunday's shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
The filibuster began shortly after 11 a.m. on Wednesday, when Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, vowed to keep talking about the need to prevent gun violence as long as he needed to in order to pressure the Senate into taking up the issue. Murphy, and the dozens of senators that have joined him in his cause, expressed frustration toward the Senate's failure to pass effective gun control legislation, despite the many mass shootings that have plagued the U.S. in recent days, weeks, months, and years.
Although Sanders wasn't present at Wednesday's filibuster, the all-day and seemingly all-night effort was kept alive by plenty of other senators. Shortly after midnight on Thursday on the east coast, C-SPAN, which broadcast the filibuster live, reported that 40 senators had joined Murphy in filibustering. Their goal was to stretch out the Senate's debate on gun control ahead of a vote on a spending bill, which Democrats had hoped to add gun amendments to.
Typically, the most lively or newsworthy thing that presidential candidates miss in Congress while campaigning is a vote. For his part, Sanders has missed several of them while fighting for the Democratic nomination. Wednesday's filibuster was perhaps more newsworthy than a single vote, but Sanders, understandably, still had to miss it.