Why Ensign didn’t vote in Kagan confirmation

WASHINGTON — On March 19, 2009, when the Senate confirmed Elena Kagan to become U.S. solicitor general by a 61-31 margin, seven senators missed the vote.

One of them was John Ensign, R-Nev.

The vote was held at 5 p.m. on a Thursday, and the Senate was not in session the next day.

According to his spokeswoman, the vote took Ensign by surprise. He was on the way to the airport to catch a flight to Las Vegas when the vote was called, "and it was too late for him to turn around," Jennifer Cooper said. "That is what he remembers."

In a notice that Ensign might have missed, at 9:30 that morning Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid laid out the day’s schedule in a floor speech. He told senators that a vote on Kagan "could occur in the 4:30 to 6 p.m. range."

Had Ensign voted, he would have sided against Kagan, Cooper said.