BY ELWOOD BREHMER, ALASKA JOURNAL OF COMMERCE
Alaska’s senators outlined their plans to continue to fight on resource and environment issues on which they say the Obama administration is overstepping its boundaries at the 40th annual Resource Development Council for Alaska meeting June 30.
Sen. Dan Sullivan said Alaskans and the state’s congressional delegation need to “keep making and winning arguments for responsible resource development.”
“I think it’s safe to say most people in Alaska are supportive of responsible resource development,” Sullivan said.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, along with Sullivan, noted how their positions on Senate committees, combined with Rep. Don Young’s seniority in the House, give the state a strong position on energy and environment issues.
Sullivan chairs the Fisheries, Water and Wildlife Subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Murkowski heads the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment.
“We hold, not me, we the state of Alaska hold the purse strings for many of the (Interior Department) agencies through the chairmanship that I have on the Appropriations Subcommittee,” Murkowski said in her remarks to RDC members.
There are 30 senators that sit on the Appropriations Committee, but “the gavel is in Alaska’s hands,” in terms of Interior Department and environment spending, she said.
“We have an opportunity to help shape the direction where many of these agencies are going,” Murkowski said.
The Interior Appropriations Subcommittee passed its $31 billion budget June 16, which is about $2.2 billion less than the president’s request.
When the full Appropriations Committee passed the budget June 18, Murkowski said it was the first Interior and Environment budget bill to move through the standard committee process in six years.
“We have moved through this appropriations process (in the past) kind of in a closed door situation where you advance the authorities through an omnibus appropriations bill,” Murkowski said. “Not a good way to operate.”
Now that Republicans have control of Congress they are pushing back hard on the administration’s environmental policies of the EPA under the Obama administration.
The battle in recent days has been over the Environmental Protection Agency’s rule known as the Waters of the U.S., that would delineate which water bodies the agency has jurisdiction over under the Clean Water Act. If the EPA has control over a given wetland, lake, river or stream, a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit is required to alter it or an adjacent parcel of land for development.
Republicans continue to say the “WOTUS” rule is a power grab by the Obama administration. Legislation to essentially kill the rule has passed the House and is pending in the Senate. Sullivan said the bill has bipartisan support on the Senate floor and could garner 60 votes.
The State of Alaska joined a lawsuit with 11 other states against the EPA challenging the Waters of the U.S. rule June 29. Alaska’s complaints are with how the rule could impact states’ sovereignty and with how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which issues Section 404 permits, and the EPA consulted with state in developing the rule, according to a release from Gov. Bill Walker’s office.
“This rule came about under a muddled process which failed to consider information specific to Alaska. By overlooking our state’s unique circumstances, the rulemaking fails to disclose the regulatory and economic impacts it will have on Alaska, which is required by law,” Walker said in a formal statement.
The language in the Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, regarding EPA’s jurisdiction is vague and the agency says the WOTUS rule would simply clarify in regulation what it has been doing all along.
Murkowski and Sullivan contend the rule would further restrict where development can occur and put additional cost and permitting burden on already strictly monitored projects in the state.
Republicans on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee blocked EPA from funding implementation of WOTUS in the budget package passed out of the subcommittee.
In total, the budget cut EPA’s funding by $540 million, or 7 percent, from the current fiscal year.
Murkowski also said she is pushing for a state option to the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which would put strict limits on carbon dioxide emissions from large power plants and essentially phase out coal-fired plants.
She said the proposal could make sense for states that can draw from many power sources on large interstate grids, but could drive the price of power higher in Alaska where that option doesn’t exist.
Murkowski vowed to move the country’s first wholesale energy policy legislation since 2007, as chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“2007 is a long time to stay still from a policy perspective while at the same time what’s happening across the country, what’s happening in the state is galloping forward,” she said.
Since the last major piece of federal energy legislation, hydraulic fracking has exploded shale oil and natural gas production across the country and renewable energy development, particularly wind and solar, has increased dramatically.
In Alaska, Shell has pushed to explore offshore Arctic leases and ConocoPhillips has reached the verge of the first oil production from the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
Also, an emphasis on small-scale efficient and renewable energy projects in remote villages across the state emerged as oil prices escalated. While much of that work has been done with state money, federal Department of Energy grants have buoyed several successful projects.
In a press briefing after her speech, Murkowski said she is working to blend three Outer Continental Shelf, or OCS, oil and gas production revenue sharing bills that are currently in front of her committee.
“This activity may be out in federal waters but the impact is to those communities, those state that host the activity offshore,” she said.
Any legislation to split federal revenue with states and local governments will need 60 votes in the Senate. Murkowski said her bill has support from Gulf and mid-Atlantic legislators whose states could also benefit from OCS revenue sharing.
The exact details on how the revenue might be divided are still being worked through, according to Murkowski.Read More
By: Erica Martinson
Alaska's first shellfish hatcheries could be its last, given the impact of growing ocean acidification, according to a new report published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.
The research -- by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the University of Alaska and a shellfish hatchery -- found that in 25 years, Alaska’s coastal waters may not be able to support shellfish hatcheries unless costly new systems are put in place.
Ocean acidification is the result of waters absorbing more carbon dioxide and it can have significant effects on shellfish like oysters and clams, which need calcium carbonate minerals to build their shells. When the ocean is more acidic, the water is corrosive to those minerals.
In Alaska, it’s not simply a factor of human-emitted CO2, but also the impacts of melting glaciers, the movement of deep waters that hold more carbon, and decomposition of plant life. On top of that, cold waters generally absorb more carbon dioxide, according to NOAA.
Six in-state shellfish hatcheries and nurseries are certified by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as seed producers for oysters and clams.
Scientists from NOAA and the University of Alaska Fairbanks teamed with the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery in Seward to test seawater chemistry for 10 months in 2013 and 2014 and measure its effects on shellfish seeds produced there.
Already, ocean acidification has had impacts on shellfish industries in the Pacific Northwest, and that’s why Alutiiq Pride wanted to participate in the study, said Jeff Hetrick, the company’s owner. "The results have been alarming," Hetrick said.
The ocean off Seward is ripe for young shellfish to prosper for five months in spring and summer, according to NOAA. But that five-month window could shrink to nothing by 2040 in some scenarios, the report found.
Unless the hatchery installed costly controls that modified the ocean waters coming into the facility, there could be no more Alaska shellfish hatcheries.
Alutiiq Pride has received hundreds of thousands of federal and state dollars in its quest to grow the state's hatchery businesses, particularly considering increasing difficulties faced by hatcheries from the Outside.
Elsewhere, in Ketchikan, OceansAlaska runs a nonprofit shellfish hatchery aimed at supporting the in-state industry.
The scientists say they need to keep tracking the oceans if they want to understand ocean acidification. But “we've come a long way in our ability to monitor ocean acidification,” said Wiley Evans of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the lead scientist on the project.
Later this year, monitoring will continue at Alutiiq Pride and expand to at least one other site, NOAA said.
In Washington, D.C., some lawmakers have been angling to get NOAA more money to investigate ocean acidification, including Rep. Don Young. Ocean acidification threatens a $350 billion industry in the U.S., they say.
Last month, Young lauded a new bill to extend NOAA’s funding to research ocean acidification -- part of a project ongoing since 2009. He pointed to the efforts at UAF in a push to get the funding reauthorized.
“This research has increased our understanding of where changes are occurring, how they vary by region and the ways they impact marine life, particularly shellfish. Alaska’s shellfish industry has significantly benefited from this important NOAA research, which has allowed the industry to mitigate and adapt to our changing oceans,” Young said.Read More
The Affordable Care Act is a misnomer.
In Alaska health insurance companies — the ones not leaving the state or dropping their health insurance arm— predict premiums will increase between 24 and 38 percent on average in the next renewal period.
That's after double digit increases in the most recent prior year.
Alaskans can't afford ACC or Obamacare. While the intent of insuring the masses is admirable, it is the middle-class who are being asked to pay for it and at higher prices. Add this to increased costs of utilities, groceries and other life necessities, and the situation is unsustainable for Alaskans. It's likely to push more people to government assistance, and the middle class toward delayed health care. If a patient has to pay high premiums and a high deductible, that's enough incentive to put off medical care.
The U.S. Supreme Court in the King v. Burwell case upheld Obama Care subsidies this week. The federal subsidies are secured for eligible Americans in all states.
If Obamacare had been what it was promised to be and do, by now it's opposition would have had to change its tune or simply not comment. But that isn't the case.
Sen. Dan Sullivan says "Obamacare has failed to deliver on its promises. ... Premiums for Alaskans are skyrocketing. ... Thousands (of Americans, including Alaskans) have lost their plans and lost their doctors. ... when the so-called 'Cadillac Tax' kicks in, thousands of Alaskan workers will be paying even more in taxes" — that's increased premium prices of their own, plus increased taxes to pay for government employees increases. Some governments have insurance plans that the federal government deems of Cadillac quality.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski points out that "only 11 percent of Americans see (Obamacare) as succeeding." (Eight-nine percent of Americans cannot be wrong.) "In Alaska we continue to see the promise of affordable care move further and further away as our costs skyrocket," she adds.
Congressman Don Young sums up the delegation's intent: "I will continue to work with my colleagues to repeal this law and replace it with patient-centered reforms that allow for freedom and flexibility" instead of overregulation.
Obamacare overregulation and costs are hurting Alaskans. In health care, the idea isn't to hurt, but to heal.
No wonder the act got it wrong in name and effect as well.Read More
Washington, D.C. – Alaska Congressman Don Young today shared the following thoughts on the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges:
“Throughout my time in Congress, I have always fought to preserve states’ rights. Alaskans chose in 1998 to define marriage, and based upon my strong belief in the 10th Amendment I have always defended their decision.
“My personal view on this matter, guided by my religious beliefs, is that marriage should be defined as a union between one man and one woman. I ultimately believe the courts should have left this decision to the states. Despite my views and those of many Alaskans, the courts have ruled.
The Capitol Hill ranks on why they enlisted and what it means now
Elected office and military service have always been closely linked in American politics. But increasingly, when issues like sending troops to Syria or making deals with Iran come to the floor in Congress, they’re decided by a majority of members who have never served themselves. In the late 1970s, as the World War II generation reached the peak of its political power, nearly four out of five members of Congress had served; today, it’s fewer than one out of five (which is still far more than the single-digit rate in the general population). Who are the 102 members of Congress who have served in the military, why did they enlist and how does their experience change the way they govern?
Politico Magazine asked the ranks on Capitol Hill to tell us. Read all member statement here.
Congressman Young’s answers:
Why did you originally decide to join the military?
“I never had the chance to decide; I was drafted to serve my nation. While I received a deferment to attend school, I ultimately served in the United States Army in the years following the Korean conflict.” —Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)
How does your service in the military change the way you do your job in Congress?
“The military taught me the importance of getting something done in a timely manner and the importance of completing a mission on time. My lieutenant would say, ‘If you don’t, you die.’ In many ways, life is the same. If you don’t pay attention to a timeline, you lose out on the ability to accomplish the task at hand.” —Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)
Compared to other periods in history, is there a greater disconnect today between civilian Americans and the military?
“I am extremely proud of our remarkable men and women who serve in our military, but the reality is that this is a shrinking percentage of the American population. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a growing disconnect between our military and civilian population. At one time, we had participation from nearly every American. Victory gardens, metal collections, saving stamps and bonds—everyone did their part to support our military. We simply don’t do that anymore.” —Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)
What piece of advice would you give the next commander in chief about leading the U.S. military?
“I would encourage the next commander in chief to be more cooperative and communicative with Congress, particularly when entering a conflict.” —Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)
The security threat the United States should be paying more attention to is…
“Russia’s increased Arctic presence. The Arctic has vast natural resources and security value, and Russia is drastically increasing its footprint in the region.” —Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)
By: Erica Martinson
WASHINGTON -- Federal subsidies for federally-run health care markets -- like Alaska’s -- are legal, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
Had the court ruled otherwise, more than 16,000 people in Alaska would have seen their premiums go up an estimated 520 percent.
In a 6-3 vote in King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court said that Affordable Care Act insurance subsidies are available to all states. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have established their own exchanges. The remaining 34 states have elected to let federal government, through the Department of Health and Human Services, do it for them.
The case hinges on the interpretation of Section 36B of the act. Four plaintiffs from Virginia argued the section is worded in a way that does not allow federal subsidies for federally-implemented marketplaces. HHS interpreted the law differently, allowing subsidies in exchanges in all states, including those with federally-run programs.
A ruling backing the plaintiffs’ interpretation would have undoubtedly upended the program, resulting in massive boosts to health insurance premiums in 34 states. A 520 percent increase in premium costs projected for Alaska would have been second only to Mississippi.
But instead the court sided with the Obama administration’s interpretation, in an opinion penned by Chief Justice John Roberts. Thursday’s ruling marks a second major Supreme Court win for the administration since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010.
“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter,” Roberts wrote.
“The tax credits are among the Act’s key reforms, involving billions of dollars in spending each year and affecting the price of health insurance for millions of people. Whether those credits are available on Federal Exchanges is thus a question of deep ‘economic and political significance’ that is central to this statutory scheme; had Congress wished to assign that question to an agency, it surely would have done so expressly."
Roberts led the majority, which included Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a dissenting opinion; he was joined by Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
Scalia’s often scathing dissent argued that the majority bent over backwards to uphold the Affordable Care Act, resorting to “interpretive jiggery-pokery” despite an “absurd” reading of the law.
“We should start calling this law SCOTUScare,” Scalia said, making a play on words between Obamacare and Supreme Court of the United States.
The question presented -- whether the law explicitly allows for subsidies for federally-established exchanges -- has an answer “so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it,” Scalia wrote.
The government should lose, but that would undermine “the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved,” he said.
Some Alaska officials were pleased with the ruling. “We applaud the court’s decision, which will allow thousands of Alaskans to continue to receive affordable health care,” said Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Valerie Davidson.
Lori Wing-Heier director of Alaska’s Division of Insurance said the state is “relieved that the Supreme Court’s ruling safeguards thousands of Alaskans’ access to affordable health care insurance.”
But Alaska’s all-Republican congressional delegation sided with Scalia.
“From its inception, ObamaCare has been a catastrophe” and a “disaster for Alaska,” Sen. Dan Sullivan said. Costs are high and rising higher in Alaska, among other problems, he said. Sullivan said he is “extremely disappointed” with the decision and remains committed to repealing and replacing the law.
“From day one,” the law “has been a steady stream of mistakes, glitches and broken promises,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski said. “All today’s ruling means is that over 16,000 Alaskans who did everything the law required won’t be punished for the shortcomings of this unworkable policy.”
“I stand ready to work with anyone on either side of the aisle to deliver true health care reform that cuts costs, increases the availability of care, doesn’t hurt small businesses or their employees, and best serves a high-risk, high cost state like Alaska,” she said.
“Today’s ruling doesn’t change the fact that the Affordable Care Act is fundamentally broken,” said Rep. Don Young. “I will continue to work with my colleagues to repeal this law and replace it with patient-centered reforms that allow for freedom and flexibility. “
But Obama is confident in the law’s staying power.
"After multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court, the Affordable Court Act is here to stay," President Barack Obama said in the White House Rose Garden following the ruling Thursday. If the court challenge had succeeded, millions of Americans would have lost thousands of dollars in tax credits and seen their health insurance premiums go up, Obama said. “America would have gone backwards.”
In Alaska, 16,583 people were at risk of losing subsidies that keep insurance premiums down. That's the second lowest number of individuals among the 34 federally-run exchanges. But Alaska’s federal exchange receives the nation's highest rate of tax dollars per person, nearly $9 million in tax dollars a month, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That money would’ve been lost to Alaska had the court ruled against the subsidies.
Such a ruling would’ve upended subsidies for health care in states with federally-run exchanges across the nation, observers predicted. With premiums once again extremely high, healthy people would opt out, leaving only those with high health-care costs enrolled. The federally-run exchanges would have gone into a downward spiral practically overnight.
Instead, the court’s ruling, the second time it upheld major portions of the 2010 law, further entrenches the Affordable Care Act.
Five years in, the law is here to stay, Obama declared. “This is not an abstract thing anymore. This is not a set of political talking points. This is reality.”
“This was a good day for America. Let’s get back to work,” Obama said before stepping away from the podium and heading back to the West Wing of the White House.Read More
By Marissa Silver
Anchorage, AK - The State of Alaska is breathing a sigh of relief Thursday as the US Supreme Court ruled six to three to uphold Burwell in the case of King vs Burwell, meaning....
"Alaskans that are receiving the premium tax credits under the Affordable Care Act will be able to keep them and be able to continue to receive their insurance under the Affordable Care Act," said Lori Wing-Heier who is the Director of the Alaska Division of Insurance.
The ruling allows approximately 16,500 Alaskans to continue receiving the reduced cost for coverage.
In a statement Governor Bill Walker said, "We are pleased so many of our friends, family and neighbors will be able to continue to receive healthcare."
However, some of Alaska's State Representatives in Washington, DC did not agree with the ruling.
In a tweet Alaska US Senator Dan Sullivan said, "Disappointed in #ObamaCare AKA #SCOTUScare decision. Still working with Senate majority to repeal and replace with patient-centered reforms."
While Alaska Congressman Representative Don Young agreed saying in a statement, "Today's ruling doesn't change the fact that the Affordable Care Act is fundamentally broken. This poorly written law - riddled with holes and overregulation - continues to fail the american people."
However, if the US Supreme Court had ruled to take away the subsidies the several thousand Alaskans who do receive their healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act would have seen their healthcare insurance costs increase.
"They would have been responsible to pay the entire premium and the average subside is somewhere around $550, I believe is what my last statistic showed, so they would have had to pay that out of pocket and that's average, so if you have a larger family, you would have had to pay more," said Wing-Heier.
And the State hopes to continue keeping healthcare affordable for Alaskans.
"We're very committed to working with the providers, with the insurance companies to stabilize or reduce the cost of healthcare itself, which we hope will reduce the cost of the healthcare insurance for Alaskans," Wing-Heier said. Read More
Washington, D.C. – Alaska Congressman Don Young today released the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in King v. Burwell:
“Today’s ruling doesn’t change the fact that the Affordable Care Act is fundamentally broken. This poorly written law – riddled with holes and overregulation – continues to fail the American people. Alaska is a prime example of this law’s shortcomings. All but two insurance providers have walked away from our state and for the second year in a row premiums have skyrocketed by double digit margins. The promises of affordability and increased access to care have gone out the window.
“I ultimately believe the Supreme Court made the wrong choice in this ruling, but that is their decision to make. I will continue to work with my colleagues to repeal this law and replace it with patient-centered reforms that allow for freedom and flexibility. Congress has a responsibility to ensure the American people receive relief from this overbearing law and its ever-growing list of broken promises. There’s no question, we will continue to chip away at its many negative consequences that are harming families, small businesses and patients.”
In the 114th Congress, the House has passed legislation to:
By: ANA RADELAT
Washington – For the first time since the Republican Party took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, Congress will hold a hearing on Puerto Rico’s status.
Wednesday's hearing, featuring witnesses representing all of Puerto Rico’s political parties, has been scheduled by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, the head of the House Natural Resources subcommittee. It has authority over the five U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico. In addition to considering the island's identity as a geo-political unit, the hearing will also focus on Puerto Rico’s severe economic problems.
Young has long favored granting statehood to Puerto Rico and cosponsored legislation proposed by Resident Commisioner Pedro Pierluisi that would require a vote on the island within one year on the statehood question.
While there are about 3.7 million Puerto Ricans still living on the island, there are 4.6 million living in the United States. And the concentration of Puerto Ricans is higher in Connecticut than any other state. According to the 2010 census, 7.1 percent of Connecticut’s population is Puerto Rican, followed by New York (5.5 percent) and New Jersey (4.9 percent).
Charles Venator-Santiago, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut who is also with the school’s Institute for Latino Studies, said the hearing is likely produce more smoke than fire because the GOP-controlled Congress does not favor giving Puerto Rico a chance at statehood.
“It doesn’t make sense from a congressional standpoint,” Venator-Santiago said of Young’s effort. “Can you imagine a Republican Congress granting Puerto Rico statehood status?”
Granting Puerto Rico statehood would give the island two U.S.senators and five members of the House of Representatives -- the same representation as Connecticut, which has a similar population.
And, like Connecticut, those new members of Congress would likely be Democrats, Venator-Santiago said.
The GOP would not accept an increase in the number of Democrats in Congress, and redistricting to create those new seats could result in a loss of seats in red states like Texas.
The U.S. Constitution does not say how a territory should become a state. Most statehood bills introduced include enabling legislation that would allow Puerto Rico to create a constitution -- that would have to be approved by Congress.
Puerto Rico’ s political parties reflect the divergent views of the residents on the island’s status. Pierluisi’s New Progressive Party favors statehood. The Popular Democratic Party favors keeping Puerto Rico a territory and the Puerto Rico Independence Party, naturally, favors independence.
Venator-Santiago said he favors independence too, but realizes he’s in a minority.
He said most Puerto Ricans favor the status quo. But that was difficult to determine from a referendum on the issue held on the island in 2012.
The referendum asked voters whether they agreed to continue with Puerto Rico's territorial status. It also asked voters to indicate the political status they preferred from three possibilities: statehood, independence, or a sovereign nation in free association with the United States.
About 54 percent voted “no” on continuing as a territory and 46 percent voted "yes," to maintain the current political status. Of those who answered on the second question, about 61 percent chose statehood, 33 percent chose free association, and 5.5 percent chose independence.
But leaders of the Popular Democratic Party who favor the status quo recommended voting "yes" to the first question, and leaving the second question blank as a protest to what they called "an anti-democratic process." The large number of blank ballots make the referendum meaningless, they said.
Yanil Terón, executive director for the Center For Latino Progress, also said the referendum was flawed.
However, she says there should be new attempts to determine what status for the island the people of Puerto Rico want to end “the constant bickering” that impedes political and economic progress. Terón was born in Puerto Rico, but has lived in the United States for more than 30 years.
“I appreciate that Congressman Don Yong is holding the hearing, but I don’t think there I support in Congress for statehood,” she said.
Questions have risen over Young’s motivations. Politico was the first to report that Young attended a fundraiser hosted for him in San Juan, P.R. by Igualdad Futuro Seguro, a pro-statehood political action committee just a few days before Wednesday’s hearing.
Young spokesman Matt Shuckerow said the congressman’s experience representing Alaska, which was a U.S territory before it became the nation’s 49th state, gives him a unique perspective on Puerto Rico’s situation.
“It has been four years since the House Natural Resources Committee has given the people of Puerto Rico an opportunity to discuss this very important issue, and the upcoming oversight hearing has been a priority for the congressman…,” he said.
The hearing comes at a time when the island’s governing officials are in a rush to complete the territory’s 2016 budget by June 30.
Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who will not testify at Young’ hearing, has said he has considered asking Congress to allow the territory to declare bankruptcy as it faces $72 billion in public debt.Read More
By Erica Martinson
WASHINGTON -- Alaska's all-Republican congressional delegation is not in agreement on the trade bill the U.S. Senate passed Wednesday: It is split down the middle of the Capitol dome.
In the Senate, both Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan voted in favor of the House-initiated trade bill Wednesday. Both voted in favor of the bill in its first trip through the Senate last month, arguing it would be a boon for business in export-heavy Alaska.
"International trade supports 90,000 Alaskan jobs, roughly 70 percent of which are part of our small- and medium-sized business community, from fishermen to natural resource developers," and expanding trade agreements would open "new markets for Alaska's exports," Murkowski said Wednesday after voting in favor of the trade bill.
“With solid trade agreements, Alaska will be able to export even more goods. And we’ll be able to attract increased investment to the state, which will create more high-paying jobs. Such trade agreements work when negotiated correctly. We will make sure they are,” Sullivan said.
But Rep. Don Young, breaking with most of his party, voted against the bill when it passed the House last week by a vote of 218-208, sticking with his longstanding opposition to such trade agreements.
“For months, Alaskans have contacted me to express their deep concerns for legislation that would grant ‘fast track’ authority to the president when negotiating trade agreements. While this is not a new issue, it comes at a time when many Americans have lost faith in the actions and proceedings of the federal government and this administration," Young said.
Young said he has heard concerns from many about the economic results -- for the country and for workers -- of an agreement with Pacific Rim countries, but his objection to the bill "is much more basic, an issue that stems from the massive power and authority Congress has ceded to the Executive Branch," he said.
Extending trade promotion authority "would give away Congress’ leverage to amend or block trade deals. Congress has the exclusive authority to set the terms of trade and I believe it should stay that way,” Young said.Read More
2314 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Don Young was re-elected to the 113th Congress in 2012 to serve his 21st term as Alaska’s only Representative to the United States House of Representatives. First sworn in as a freshman to the 93rd Congress after winning a special election on March 6, 1973, Congressman Young is today the 1st ranking Republican member and the the 4th ranking overall member of the House of Representatives.
Congressman Young served as Chairman of the House Resources Committee from 1995 to 2001 and then as the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from 2001-2007. In the 110th Congress, Representative Young returned to the helm of the Resources Committee to lead his fellow Republicans as the Ranking Member. In the 112th Congress, he was chosen to serve as the Chairman for the Subcommittee on Alaska Native and Indian Affairs. Rep. Young currently serves as a senior Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and House Natural Resources Committee.
Congressman Young calls Fort Yukon, Alaska home; a remote village of approximately 700 people located 7 miles above the Arctic Circle in Alaska’s central interior region. Born on June 9, 1933 in Meridian, California, he earned his associate degree at Yuba Junior College in 1952, and his bachelor’s degree in teaching at Chico State College in 1958. Between earning these degrees, he served in the US Army’s 41st Tank Battalion from 1955 to 1957.
When he first moved to Alaska, Congressman Young made a living in construction and tried his hand at commercial fishing, trapping, and in the search for gold. In Fort Yukon he taught in a 25-student, 5th grade elementary class in the Bureau of Indian Affairs school. Constructed of logs, the school had a wood stove that kept his Alaska Native students warm in the sub-freezing, arctic winter. With the annual spring break-up of the river ice, he captained his own tug and barge operation to deliver products and supplies to villages along the Yukon River. Even today, he remains the only licensed mariner in Congress.
It was in Fort Yukon that Rep. Young met and married a young bookkeeper named Lu. Lu was always at the Congressman’s side and supported him throughout his public service career. Lu and Don were married for 46 years, they were blessed with and raised two daughters, Joni and Dawn, and 14 grandchildren. Mrs. Young passed away on August 2, 2009.
Congressman Young first entered public service in 1964 when he was elected Mayor of Fort Yukon. Two years later, Alaskan voters elected him to the State Legislature in Juneau where he served in the State House from 1966 to 1970, and later in the State Senate from 1970 to 1973. Just hours after being sworn in to United States House of Representatives in 1973, he found himself leading the historic battle for approval of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. Often citing this as the single most important achievement in his career, Congressman Young stated, “Next to statehood itself, the most historical legislation passed that affected every Alaskan then, now, and in the future, was the passage of the pipeline legislation.”
That same year, his colleagues honored him as the “Freshman Congressman of the Year.” He went on to gain a key appointment on the then Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee where he pushed through the 200-mile fishing limit critical to Alaska’s fishing industry. He fought against federal control of lands and resources to which Alaskans are rightfully entitled – a battle he continues today with the same vigor. In 1997, he passed by a 419-1 vote, the National Wildlife Improvement Act, which sets guidelines for the nation’s 500-plus wildlife refuges.
Congressman Young proudly serves as the “Congressman for All Alaska” and loves his role as the only Alaskan Representative in Congress. Renewed by the challenges and goals of the 111th Congress and his committee positions, Congressman Young will continue to champion legislation and funding for programs benefiting Alaska and the nation. His vision remains the same – to provide citizens with the opportunity for a better life not just for today, but also for tomorrow and the future.
AK mourns the loss of those aboard yesterday's tragic plane crash. I share my deepest condolences & sympathy
Yesterday, I met with NeighborWorks Alaska to discuss housing and community development across the state. Thanks for the insight and hospitality!
Thank you Sealaska for the special recognition you extended to me this afternoon at your 2015 annual meeting. It's always so nice to see so many
ICYMI: If you’ve ever read stories of celebrities or musicians demanding outrageous requirements backstage, you may find the following story
Alaska mourns the loss of all those aboard yesterday’s tragic plane crash. I share my deepest condolences and sympathy with the community of
Today’s Supreme Court ruling doesn’t change the fact that the Affordable Care Act is fundamentally broken. This poorly written law – riddled