Young outpaces others in Congress in missed votes

Alaska rep misses 21 percent of the votes, compared to the usual 4 percent

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2002

ANCHORAGE - Alaska Rep. Don Young missed more votes on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives last year than nearly every other member of Congress. Alaska U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens also missed more votes than any other senator, while Alaska U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski made most votes.

Young, an Alaska Republican as are Stevens and Murkowski, missed 21 percent of votes. The average House member missed 4 percent, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Young, Alaska's only congressman, didn't participate in 108 of 507 House votes, according to a database maintained by the independent publication Congressional Quarterly. And it appears he missed the last two weeks of the congressional session.

Young last voted Dec. 4. Congress continued without him for 15 days and 44 votes before adjourning for the year.

The sole House member who missed more votes was Rep. Barbara Cubin, a Wyoming Republican, whose husband fell gravely ill last year. She missed 40 percent of votes.

Stevens also missed more votes than any other senator - 12 percent of Senate votes.

"He usually has a very good voting record," said Stevens spokeswoman Melanie Alvord.

But last year Stevens kept a commitment to speak at his granddaughter's high school graduation in Alaska. That kept him away May 21, when the Senate took 17 votes, each related to the tax-relief bill. Stevens was back and voting on May 22 and May 23, when he cast a yes on the bill's final passage.

Stevens also was absent on scattered days during the year to be with his older sister, who is ill and lives in California, Alvord said.

Young did not offer the Daily News a reason for his absences, despite several phone calls and e-mails to his offices in Washington and Anchorage. His campaign manager referred the paper to Young's congressional spokesman, who did not respond. An Empire call to Young's Washington office today also was not returned. Staff said one main press contact was out of the country and another was on maternity leave.

For the past three years, Young has been in the bottom 5 percent of the House when it comes to showing up for votes, not counting the House speaker, who typically doesn't vote, and members who died during the year.

In his 29 years in Congress, Young has often returned late from the August recess, absences his staff has attributed to fall hunting trips.

Many of the votes Young missed in 2001 were neither controversial nor close naming post offices, honoring Sept. 11 victims, clarifying flag-flying etiquette, and such. Twenty-two of the votes he missed were procedural motions.

But Young also missed votes on several spending bills and on a measure that, as chairman of the House Transportation Committee, he counted as one of the year's accomplishments, the railroad retirement bill.

He also missed the vote on whether to give President Bush trade promotion authority. The bill passed 215-214.

Murkowski made 93 percent of Senate votes. The Senate average was nearly 99 percent.



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