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Feb. 14, 2002 The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner chastises Rep. Young for session absences

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2002

It was just a couple of weeks ago that we noted some disappointment with Rep. Don Young's explanation as to why he left Washington early in December.

In leaving, he missed the last two weeks of House votes -- a period that contributed to his having the highest percentage of missed votes last year in the U.S. House of Representatives.

He said, ''I was tired of the Senate keeping us here for no reason at all. So I went, very frankly, home early. If people don't understand that ... well, I'm sure they do.''

He left out the part about being in Texas attending campaign fund-raisers before Christmas.

And the state's lone representative expects the people of Alaska to understand this?

Because of our population size, Alaska gets only one member in the U.S. House. That means on any given vote, we have only one opportunity out of 435 to consider what Alaskans want before the votes are cast.

Congressional Quarterly reported that Young missed 21 percent of House votes last year, the highest percentage among the 435 members. He missed the last two weeks of voting after leaving Washington on Dec. 6. Congress remained in session for another 13 days.

While the adjournment is supposed to fall around the first of October, in recent years both chambers have extended their work well past that date. The late session surely didn't come as a surprise to the seasoned congressman.

It's easy to appreciate Young's role as transportation chairman. It is likely that it requires a lot of travel time and ''face time'' with a broad spectrum that won't always include Alaskans. And, clearly, if he plays the politics right, it can pay off for Alaska.

We like having our congressman in that chairmanship role.

What is disappointing about the December absence is that it appears that Young made a choice to satisfy his personal desires and to attend political fund-raising events over what it is he was elected to do -- represent the people of Alaska through votes in Congress.



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