Begich misses jobless vote for speech in Hawaii

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) missed a procedural vote on extending unemployment benefits to deliver a speech to a lobby group in Hawaii, The Hill has learned.
 
Begich delivered a keynote speech Wednesday morning to the American Aviation Issues conference, an annual event hosted by the American Association of Airport Executives.
 

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He also held two fundraisers for his hotly contested Senate race and met with Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) to discuss Alaska-Hawaii issues, according to a Begich aide. Elected officials from Hawaii and Alaska often work closely together on national issues to help give the states more clout.
 
The first-term senator is a top Republican target and will likely face a tight reelection battle this year in his heavily Republican state.
 
Begich was one of three senators — and the only Democrat — who missed a tight Tuesday morning vote to invoke cloture on a Senate bill extending federal unemployment benefits for three months. Senate Democrats moved forward on the bill with a bare minimum of 60 votes after a small group of Republicans voted "yes."

He also missed the vote on Monday evening to confirm Janet Yellen as the new chairwoman of the Federal Reserve.
 
A Begich aide pointed out that the senator is the co-chairman of the Senate Aviation Caucus and said the engagement was set months ago, long before the vote was scheduled.
 
“The conference was certainly the driver for the trip — in fact, he was re-invited to speak/attend after attending last year,” the aide said.
 
Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R), former Alaska Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan (R) and 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller (R) are vying to run against Begich.