Tags: alaska | mark begich | miss | vote

Alaska Sen. Begich Skips Jobless Vote for Hawaii Speech

Image: Alaska Sen. Begich Skips Jobless Vote for Hawaii Speech

Friday, 10 Jan 2014 01:38 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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Alaska Democrat Sen. Mark Begich was one of only three senators to miss a tight vote on extending federal unemployment benefits for three months.

Begich, the junior senator to Republican Lisa Murkowski, passed on the vote to be in Hawaii to deliver the keynote speech to the American Association of Airport Executives, a lobbying group, The Hill reports. While there, he also held two fundraisers.

Begich has been aggressively raising money in an effort to hang on to his seat, which has drawn the interest of three Republicans, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, former state Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan, and 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller.

The vote he missed would extend a now-expired benefit that provides for up to 47 weeks of federal unemployment to workers who have maxed out their state-funded benefits, typically after 26 weeks. The extension narrowly passed the first hurdle in the Senate with 60 members voting in favor, a small number of those being Republicans.

Since taking office in January 2009, Begich has missed 3 percent of roll call votes -- nearly twice the 1.7 percent average of currently serving senators, according to data from govtrack.us.

Of 1,479 roll-call votes, Begich was a no-show for 45, the site reports.

A spokeswoman initially told The Associated Press that Begich missed the vote because he was en route back to Washington, but after The Hill reported the senator was in Hawaii, she said she misspoke. Heather Handyside told AP that Begich piggybacked the trip with a family vacation.

Begich also missed the vote to confirm Janet Yellen as the new chairwoman of the Federal Reserve.

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