Young's poor voting record in Congress nothing to brag about

Posted: Thursday, December 26, 2002

The undeniable, undefeatable congressman for all of Alaska has done it again.

Alaska Rep. Don Young missed more votes than nearly all other members of Congress in 2002.

There is no ''oops'' about it, this has become a Young trademark. We're not sure if we should blame Young or blame Democrats for failing to dredge up solid competition for Young's seat in nearly three decades to keep him on his toes.

Even a congresswoman who spent a month in the hospital and died on Sept. 28 ended up with a better voting record than our Mr. Young. Somebody out there needs to at least step up and recognize this is not a good thing.

Last year, when the session ran into overtime, Young left early and missed dozens of votes. As a result, his voting record dropped to the absolute bottom of the heap. At first he said he missed the votes because he objected to being held so late for no good reason and he was, frankly, ready to go home. But then we found out that ''home'' was attending campaign fund-raising activities in Texas.

We voted Young into office to cast votes, not raise money for the party.

Voting: That's been his job for 29 years.

But for the last four years Young has been in the bottom 5 percent of the House when it comes to showing up for votes. He has often returned late from the August recess because, his staff says, he is on fall hunting trips. He also travels extensively as chairman of the transportation committee, and perhaps that role is keeping him off the voting roll at times.

Many of the votes the congressman missed appear to be housekeeping and procedural motions. But he also missed votes related to defense and homeland security in the past year.

While his record improved somewhat this year (it couldn't get worse), he must recognize that as the single representative among 435 others for the nation's largest state, his voting record is a statistic that matters.

Why should his constituents learn about his voting record through press reports quoting Congressional Quarterly? Why isn't our congressman at least sensitive enough to this to let us know what's going on in advance?

Where's the press release that states his record and explains that, while his attendance looks slim, he is actually representing Alaska very well because he was doing something else that was more important and that he was present for every vote that really counted?

Alaskans should be able to see this statistic and dismiss it because they know their representative is doing well at other tasks. Instead, we see it and wonder what's going on.

Congressman Young needs to take note that we care about this statistic, that we voted him into office to cast votes on our behalf and that we see casting votes as his job. He should recognize that when it appears he might not be doing that job, he needs to tell the boss (that's you and me) why things may not be as bad as they appear.

Without a reasonable explanation for what appears to be a lapse in performance, the boss should consider a change at this position.

-- Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Dec. 17

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