The Nation: Rules of the Club

Since Jefferson's day, the U.S. Senate has had a rule that no member can be absent from its sessions without permission. That quaint regulation is in a class with the custom that a gentleman always dresses for dinner or walks on the lady's curb side.

Taxpayers give Senators $42,500 a year, along with generous travel and stationery allowances, to attend to the nation's legislative business. But in the men's-club atmosphere of the Senate, absenteeism is something of a way of life. Constituents' demands, to be sure, must be met—along with campaign obligations. Many Senators...

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