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Bernie Sanders to return to Senate for gun vote

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 6/17/2016 Nicole Gaudiano

Bernie Sanders prepares to speak for a video to supporters at Polaris Mediaworks on June 16, 2016 in Burlington, Vt. © Matt McClain, AP Bernie Sanders prepares to speak for a video to supporters at Polaris Mediaworks on June 16, 2016 in Burlington, Vt. Bernie Sanders may still be a presidential candidate, but on Monday he’s returning to his day job.

The Vermont senator will cast his first votes since January on gun legislation Monday after his absence from a Democrat-led filibuster Wednesday drew an angry response on social media. The 15-hour filibuster was held to demand action in the wake of the Orlando mass shooting on legislation to ban gun sales to suspected terrorists and expand background checks for gun buyers.

Sanders participated in a vigil in his hometown of Burlington on Monday night to honor those who died in Orlando and called for a ban on assault weapons in speeches this week.

“As the recent tragedy in Orlando has made crystal clear, we must ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons, end the gun show loophole and expand instant background checks,” Sanders said Thursday night in a live, online video address to his supporters on the path forward for his campaign.

Sanders returned to Vermont late Tuesday after a meeting with the presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton following the final primary of the Democratic campaign in D.C. He remained there for the video address Thursday night, but he tweeted from his Senate account his support for Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who led the filibuster.

Sanders, who has represented gun-friendly Vermont in Congress for more than two decades, was hammered for his gun record by Clinton, who said he has sided with the gun lobby on key legislation. He has rejected her criticism and said he supports President Obama’s actions to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

Some reacted to his absence from the Senate on Twitter with the hashtag, “#WhereIsBernie?”

Sanders didn't suspend his presidential campaign or endorse Hillary Clinton during the 23-minute address, even though Clinton has secured enough delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination and the primary season has ended.

His campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, has been saying on news shows since yesterday that Sanders is still a candidate for the Democratic nomination even though he is not courting support from superdelegates, the party leaders and elected officials who can vote for the candidate of their choice at the Democratic National Convention.

"You'll see at the convention, we'll have a unified party coming out of it," Weaver told Bloomberg Politics on Thursday. He said that after Sanders has "a period of conversation" with Clinton's campaign and his own supporters, "we would like to get to a place where we could very actively support the nominee."

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