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Sen. Bill Nelson

Former Senator for Florida

pronounced bil // NEL-sun

Nelson was a senator from Florida and was a Democrat. He served from 2001 to 2018.

He was previously the representative for Florida’s 11th congressional district as a Democrat from 1983 to 1990; and the representative for Florida’s 9th congressional district as a Democrat from 1979 to 1982.

Photo of Sen. Bill Nelson [D-FL, 2001-2018]


Legislative Metrics

Read our 2018 Report Card for Nelson.

Ideology–Leadership Chart

Nelson is shown as a purple triangle in our ideology-leadership chart below. Each dot was a member of the Senate in 2019 positioned according to our ideology score (left to right) and our leadership score (leaders are toward the top).

The chart is based on the bills Nelson sponsored and cosponsored from Jan 3, 2013 to Jan 2, 2019. See full analysis methodology.

Enacted Legislation

Nelson was the primary sponsor of 30 bills that were enacted. The most recent include:

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Does 30 not sound like a lot? Very few bills are ever enacted — most legislators sponsor only a handful that are signed into law. But there are other legislative activities that we don’t track that are also important, including offering amendments, committee work and oversight of the other branches, and constituent services.

We consider a bill enacted if one of the following is true: a) it is enacted itself, b) it has a companion bill in the other chamber (as identified by Congress) which was enacted, or c) if at least about half of its provisions were incorporated into bills that were enacted (as determined by an automated text analysis, applicable beginning with bills in the 110th Congress).

Bills Sponsored

Issue Areas

Nelson sponsored bills primarily in these issue areas:

Health (27%) Armed Forces and National Security (14%) Science, Technology, Communications (12%) Crime and Law Enforcement (12%) International Affairs (11%) Taxation (9%) Environmental Protection (8%) Commerce (7%)

Recently Introduced Bills

Nelson recently introduced the following legislation:

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Most legislation has no activity after being introduced.

Voting Record

Key Votes

Nelson voted Nay

Nelson voted Yea

Bill Passed 72/26 on Sep 28, 2016.

The Continuing Appropriations and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017, and Zika Response and Preparedness Act (H.R. 5325) is an appropriations …

Nelson voted Yea

Conference Report Agreed to 83/16 on Dec 3, 2015.

H.R 22, formerly the Hire More Heroes Act, has become the Senate’s vehicle for passage of the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the …

Nelson voted Nay

Bill Passed 71/25 on Jun 18, 2015.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 is a comprehensive defense spending bill. At almost 1,000 pages long it will direct funding for …

Nelson voted Yea

Joint Resolution Passed 78/22 on Sep 18, 2014.

Nelson voted Yea

Motion Agreed to 81/19 on Dec 15, 2010.

The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (Pub.L. 111–312, H.R. 4853, 124 Stat. 3296, enacted December 17, 2010), also known …

Nelson voted Nay

Missed Votes

From Jan 2001 to Dec 2018, Nelson missed 145 of 5,550 roll call votes, which is 2.6%. This is worse than the median of 1.5% among the lifetime records of senators serving in Dec 2018. The chart below reports missed votes over time.

We don’t track why legislators miss votes, but it’s often due to medical absenses, major life events, and running for higher office.

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Primary Sources

The information on this page is originally sourced from a variety of materials, including: