Young improves but still misses 15 percent

Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Alaska Rep. Don Young's attendance in Congress improved this year, but he still missed more votes than nearly all his House colleagues in 2002.

The independent political journal Congressional Quarterly compiled a database and found that Young missed 15 percent of floor votes. That's worse than 95 percent of his colleagues.

In 2001, Young missed 21 percent of votes, the second-worst attendance record in Congress that year. This year, he and three other members tied for 411th place out of 434.

Among those who missed more votes than Young were Robert Erlich, a Republican who was campaigning to be governor of Maryland and missed 19 percent of House votes, and Gary Condit, a California Democrat hounded by the press because of his relationship with a Washington intern whose body eventually was found in a park.

Hawaii Rep. Patsy Mink had a slightly better record, despite spending alive.

The average percentage of missed votes for a House member was 5 percent, not counting the House speaker, who rarely votes, or Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, who was expelled by his colleagues in July and jailed on corruption charges.

The Congressional Quarterly did not count Young's vote on Traficant's expulsion. Young voted ''present'' rather than yea or nay, explaining later that he felt Traficant's constituents should decide if he stays or goes.

More than a third of the 73 votes Young missed were on procedural motions. He also missed votes related to the defense bill and homeland security, as well as votes to honor tennis players Venus and Serena Williams and wish Ronald Reagan a happy birthday.

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, had the worst attendance record in the Senate last year, missing 12 percent of votes. This year, his record improved to only 3 percent, about average for a senator.

Frank Murkowski, who was campaigning to be governor for much of the year, missed 9 percent of Senate votes.

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