Bernie Sanders, fresh off the presidential campaign trail, returned to the Senate but didn't receive the welcome he seemed to expect.
The Vermont Senator gave a speech to the Democratic caucus illustrating what can be learned from his campaign and according to Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., "It wasn't a ‘Rah! Rah! Do back flips [speech],'" The Hill reports
. "It was, ‘I've been everywhere and this is what I saw and this is what I heard.'"
Sanders received some friendly welcome gestures from his colleagues, but during a long series of votes on gun control he appeared to have an energetic conversation with Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., two of rival Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's close allies.
"Sen. Reid and Sen. Schumer said some things to indicate he's coming back here with enhanced stature," one unnamed Sanders staffer told The Hill, referring to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, and Charles Schumer of New York, who'll replace Reid as leader next year.
However, one Senate Democrat noted that "Bernie seems startled that people aren't more deferential," because he appeared to expect his fellow legislators to approach him first, The Hill said. "He thinks he's bigger than just the Senate," the Democrat continued. "He's the head of a movement and his colleagues aren't quite there."
Other colleagues told The Hill they thought his decision to keep his Secret Service detail, at a cost of $38,000 a day, revealed his inflated sense of self-importance. Sanders even arrived Wednesday morning in his motorcade, lights on and sirens blaring, to vote on a minor measure.
Late Wednesday, Sanders appeared at the House of Representatives to support a sit-in protest by Democrats demanding votes on gun control measures.
But Sanders' record on gun control isn't entirely consistent with his party's progressive wing. During his time in the House he opposed the Brady Bill, which involved background checks on firearm purchases, he also voted to give gun makers a civil liability exemption regarding the use of their products, although he later supported removing that protection.
Despite his return to the Capitol, Sanders hasn't stopped campaigning. He's scheduled to give a speech to supporters late Thursday in New York, and in a Washington Post article
published Thursday, he wrote: "What do we want?… We want a government of the people, by the people and for the people. That is what we want, and that is what we will continue fighting for."
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