While most of the nation huddled to keep warm as a “polar vortex” blanketed the nation, Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) was in Hawaii to speak at a conference of airport executives. The average temperature in Hawaii on Tuesday was in the low-80s. Because of the trip, Begich missed two key votes in the Senate.
Begich missed the vote to invoke cloture on a bill to extend long-term unemployment benefits. His absence almost prevented Democrats from overcoming a Republican filibuster on the legislation. With an additional Republican vote, the measure reached the minimum 60 votes it needed to advance. Begich also missed the vote to confirm Janet Yellen as the new Chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Begich’s staff initially said he missed the vote because the “polar vortex” impeded his travel. Later, they admitted he was in Hawaii for a conference and two fundraisers for his reelection in November. Begich, serving his first term in the Senate, is a top Republican target this Fall.