WASHINGTON, DC – The Alaska Congressional Delegation is continuing its efforts to provide equitable treatment to Alaska Native Vietnam Veterans by reintroducing the Alaska Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act. The legislation would amend the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act to allow approximately 2,800 Alaska Natives who served during the Vietnam era, and missed an earlier opportunity because of that service, to apply for their government-promised Native allotment.
“This has always been an issue of equity and fairness; about rectifying a wrong for our Alaska Native Vietnam Veterans who so proudly served this nation,” said Congressman Don Young. “This legislation would finally bring this issue to a close and give Alaska Native Vietnam veterans the opportunity to obtain lands promised to them under federal law. It’s a downright travesty that decades later, these honorable men and women are still waiting to receive what was promised to them. As I’ve said before, I will not rest until this longstanding inequity is resolved. I am both hopeful and optimistic – with a new administration and Secretary of Interior – this will be done in the 115th Congress.”
“We as a nation should honor our prior promises to our Alaska Native veterans, who showed a special kind of patriotism and service during the Vietnam era,” said Senator Dan Sullivan. “This bill seeks to cure a longstanding injustice for the Alaska Native men and women who left everything behind to serve when their nation called. With a new administration in the White House, and support from Secretary of Interior Zinke, I am hopeful that we can once and for all address this important issue.”
“We owe much to our Alaska Native veterans who risked their lives in service to our country during the Vietnam War,” Senator Lisa Murkowski said. “I am pleased to cosponsor this legislation with Sen. Sullivan and Rep. Young, which helps Congress fulfill its decades-old promise to provide these veterans with the land allotments they earned and rightfully deserve. Rest assured, I will not let our Alaska Native Vietnam veterans be forgotten as we work to make good on this long overdue commitment.”
“On behalf of the Alaska Native veterans of the Vietnam War and other veterans who served during the Vietnam Era, I want to take this opportunity to thank Alaska's Congressional Delegation for introducing legislation that would authorize the Alaska Native veterans of that era with the right to apply for Native allotments,” said Nelson Angapak, Alaska Native Vietnam Veteran and former Senior Vice President for the Alaska Federation of Natives. “Thank you and it is my humble hope that the 115th Congress will pass this bill; and that it will become law of the land! Thank you very much."
While serving during the Vietnam War era, many Alaska Native Veterans were unable to apply for land allotments promised by the federal government under the Native Allotment of 1906 before the process was ended by the passage of ANCSA. In 1998, Congress opened an application period for some of these veterans, but unfortunately only those who served from 1969–1971 were allowed to apply.
The Alaska Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act expands military service dates to coincide with the entire Vietnam conflict, which officially lasted from 1964-1975. The legislation would increase available land for selection by Alaska Native Veterans and reduce previous restrictions and occupancy requirements that prevented many veterans from receiving their allotment during the prior open season. Further, the bill includes minor policy improvements made during the 114th Congress, including a provision that requires the Department of Interior to coordinate with Alaska Native organizations to help streamline the implementation of the legislation and coordinate outreach to veterans.
H.R. 1867, introduced by Congressman Don Young, has been has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee. S. 785, introduced by Senator Sullivan and cosponsored by Senator Murkowski, has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Washington, D.C. – Alaska Congressman Don Young recently co-authored a bipartisan letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, requesting the inclusion of language in the Fiscal Year 2018 spending bill that would bar the Department of Justice from using resources to prosecute individuals who are acting in compliance with their state’s medical marijuana laws. The letter was signed 43 members of the House of Representatives.
“As you prepare the Fiscal Year 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, we respectfully request that you include language barring the Department of Justice from prosecuting those who comply with their state’ medical marijuana laws. We believe such a policy is not only consistent with the wishes of a bipartisan majority of the members of the House, but also with the wishes of the American people,” the co-authors wrote.
“Since 2014, the House of Representatives has consistently supported such language – first by a vote of 219-189 in 2014, and most recently by a vote of 242-185 in 2015...We believe that the consistent, bipartisan support for such protections against federal enforcement, combined with the fact that similar language has been in place since December 2014, makes a strong case for including similar language in your base FY 2018 appropriations bill,” the letter states.
In recent years, Congress has amended its annual appropriations bills to prohibit the Department of Justice from using funds to prevent the administration and usage of medical marijuana in states where it is legal. As a cosponsor of these amendments – commonly referred to as the Rohrabacher Amendment – Congressman Young says his support serves to benefit members of our nation’s veteran community, who have relied on medical marijuana as an alternative to traditional but addictive medications, and his firm belief in the principles of the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Congressman Young is a founding member of the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus, which serves as a forum for members of the U.S. House of Representatives to discuss, learn and work together to establish a better and more rational approach to federal cannabis policy. Young does not personally advocate for the use of marijuana, but says his position on marijuana policy is an issue of states’ rights. He has supported numerous measures in Congress to protect the ability of states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana, including Alaska, to enforce their own laws on the issue. These bills include:
The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE Banking Act), which has yet to be introduced in the 115th Congress. This legislation would remove uncertainty by providing a “safe harbor” under criminal and civil laws for depository institutions who provide a "financial product or service" to a covered business. For example, federal banking regulators would not be able to threaten or limit a bank or credit union’s Deposit Insurance or force a depository institution to halt providing any kind of banking services to a marijuana-related legitimate business.
Click here to view the letter.
Washington, D.C. – In the Congressional Western Caucus Weekly Address, Alaska Congressman Don Young discusses the importance of limiting burdensome and misguided rules and regulations, improving access to public lands, and enforcing multiple-use on public lands.
Congressman Don Young delivering the Western Caucus Weekly Address (click here to watch).
“Hello, I’m Congressman Don Young from the great state of Alaska. It’s my honor today to give the Congressional Western Caucus Weekly Address. When I say from Alaska – this is the 663,000 sq. mile state. It is also, landmass wise, if you take all the land east of the Mississippi, from the tip of Maine to the tip of Florida – that’s part of Alaska. In that area they have 253 Congressman and 52 Senators, and then there’s myself. I enjoy that and love being a representative of a Western State. We’re the furthest Western state in the Union and I’m quite proud of it.
“We like working on land issues. It’s one of the biggest fights we have in the Western states – is who controls land, how they should control it, what should happen on it. There’s been a tenancy, because of our Congressional populations from large urban areas, to look upon the West as their playground and not recognize there are cattle ranchers, there are farmers, there are loggers, there are miners, there are people that contribute to the wealth of this nation. And they’ve tried to take away the ability to do so.
“We try, and I think under this administration we have a chance, to undue regulations that are imposed upon federal lands and how they can and cannot be used. We’ll have access to those lands for hunting, fishing and recreations. This is a challenge for us now and we’re going to try – I hate to say it – make hay. Because it’s time for us to understand that land is public, but it’s also for the utilization for those that live by or on, or make their livelihoods from.
“Again, the Western Caucus is made up of Western Congressmen that try to take and share their thoughts on those that live in large cities. Our biggest challenge now; when I first came down here 45 years ago, 20 percent of our Congressman were from rural areas – Western areas. And now we’re down to 9 percent and that makes us less effective. But if we keep our act together and are united as Westerns, I think we can achieve the goals. That’s the utilization of our resources, freedom of individuals – not control by the federal government.
“The biggest challenge to everyone in America is the overreach of the federal government. We see it in Alaska every day. They take away our rights every day. And I’m trying to get those back. And very frankly, I’ve been somewhat successful. We just passed H.J. Res. 69 the other day, which gave the control of fish and wildlife back to the State of Alaska that was taken away by the Obama Administration. I passed this CRA that makes it good for the nation, good for the States, and good for fish and wildlife.
“So I’m happy again to report from the Western Caucus. Keep us in mind. Look us up on your Twitter and see what we’re doing. We’ll continue to do what is right for the Western states of the United States of America.
“God Bless, this has been Congressman Don Young speaking for the Western Caucus.”
The mission of the Congressional Western Caucus (CWC) is to enhance, sustain, and preserve the West’s dynamic and unique culture, and to find innovative solutions that address the distinctive concerns facing western and rural communities. It is the Caucus’ belief that economic growth and conservation are not mutually exclusive and can be accomplished by promoting balanced, common-sense reforms. Young, who for years has served as vocal and outspoken member of the Caucus, is currently the CWC Vice Chairman of Indian and Oceans.
Recently, President Trump signed Congressman Young’s H.J. Res. 69, a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to overturn an August 5, 2016 rule by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that seized authority away from the State of Alaska to manage fish and wildlife on federal refuge lands in Alaska.
*** Click here to download Congressman Young’s weekly address for the Congressional Western Caucus.
Washington, D.C. – Alaska Congressman Don Young today shared the following statement in response to the U.S. Army announcement to retain the full brigade end strength for 4-25 Infantry Brigade Combat Team at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson (JBER).
“Since the Army first announced its planned reduction of JBER’s 4-25, our united congressional delegation has fought hard to preserve its integrity and end strength. Today’s announcement underscores the incredible capability 4-25 IBCT offers to United States Army and the nation,” said Congressman Don Young. “Not only are they the only airborne brigade in the Pacific and the only arctic-capable airborne brigade in the U.S. Army, they are one of the finest light infantry units in the entire military. The Army’s decision to deploy members of 4-25 to Afghanistan – in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel – further emphasizes the strength and tenacity of our Alaska trained military men and women. I wish the Spartans Godspeed as they prepare to once again deploy to Afghanistan, and I am praying for them, for their families, and for their safe return to JBER in 2018.”
Since the U.S. Army first announced its intent to reduce JBER's 4-25 to a battalion Task Force – cutting 2,600 soldiers, the Alaska Delegation has fought to keep 4-25 as a full Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT).
Along with Senators Murkowski and Sullivan, Congressman Young sent several letters to then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and then-Secretary of the Army John McHugh opposing the cuts to 4-25.
In a February 2016 meeting with Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy, Congressman Young emphasized the importance of retaining the end-strength off 4-25 – calling the decision misguided.
On Monday, March 21, 2016, the Army officially announced it would delay its decision to remove 2,600 soldiers from the 4-25 Infantry Brigade Combat Team stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
On December 2, 2016, Congressman Young voted in favor of S. 2943, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2017. This legislation included the authorization for 476,000 active-duty soldiers—and increase of 12,000 above FY 2016 levels, and necessary for the reversal of the cuts to 4-25. This legislation passed the Senate on December 11, 2016, and was signed into law by the President on December 23, 2016.
On March 8, 2017, Congressman Young voted in favor of H.R. 1301, the Defense Appropriations Act for the remainder of FY 2017, which provided the necessary funding to permanently retain 4-25.
On April 7, 2017, the Army announced that in late summer/fall of 2017, 4-25 would again be deploying in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. The Army also announced its intent to retain 4-25 following the deployment, contingent to appropriations.
Washington, D.C. – The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands today met to discuss Alaska Congressman Don Young’s legislation to facilitate a life-saving road for the isolated community of King Cove, Alaska.
Congressman Young testifying on behalf of H.R. 218, the King Cove Land Exchange Act (click here to watch)
“When I watch lives die of my Alaska Natives, because someone has an ecosystem that will not be affected by this road at all – it is wrong. The idea that the area is going to be disturbed is nonsense. It’s pure B.S. that comes out of these interest groups – these environmental groups,” said Congressman Don Young. “There’s 150 miles of road on this refuge already. There are 11 lodges there that hunt birds on this refuge. We’re talking about an 11-mile road that’s nowhere near the lagoon or the eelgrass. This is going to save lives. Now, the day that this Congress will take and love a goose, that’s not going to be harmed, over a human life – shame on you. I’m not going to tolerate that.”
On the first day of the 115th Congress, Rep. Young introduced H.R. 218, legislation to authorize a land exchange to facilitate the construction of a road linking the City of King Cove and the City of Cold Bay, the home to an all-weather airport (closed an average of 10 days per year) featuring Alaska’s fifth-longest runway.
Under the exchange, 43,093 acres of non-federal lands owned by the State of Alaska will be transferred to the Department of the Interior (DOI) and added to the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge as designated Wilderness. In return, the State of Alaska will receive 206 acres of federal lands for the construction of an 11-mile, gravel, one-lane, non-commercial road segment that will connect existing roads on both sides of the refuge. The corridor would account for approximately 0.06 percent of the 315,000-acre Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. Currently, 131 acres of the proposed 206 acre project are designated as Wilderness.
Della Trumble, Lifelong Aleut Resident of King Cove & Community Spokesperson, Speaks in Favor of H.R. 218 (click here to watch)
“Who would have believed that this battle for safe access would have taken decades – a right that most people in the United States enjoy daily?” said Della Trumble, a member of the Agdaagux Tribe of King Cove, speaking on behalf of the residents of King Cove. “How much more do we need to endure, particularly when there is such a reasonable, dependable and affordable solution to our transportation access problem to the Cold Bay Airport? We desperately need the 11-mile, one-lane gravel road connecting King Cove to the Cold Bay Airport…No mother should ever have to witness their own precious daughter crash-land at the King Cove Airstrip and it should not be happening in this day and age.”
King Cove is located between two volcanic mountains near the end of the Alaska Peninsula, about 625 miles southwest of Anchorage. Since Secretary Sally Jewell’s heartless denial of the King Cove road in 2013, the community has experienced 53 medivacs – including 17 by the U.S. Coast Guard – in often harsh weather conditions. In the past, plane crashes have led to multiple fatalities that could have been avoided had road transportation been an option. Without the road, local residents continue to be at the mercy of high winds, dense fog, and strong storms that prevent safe and timely transportation during medical emergencies.
Today’s hearing featured opposition to Young’s King Cove legislation, including Democrat members of the subcommittee and Alaskan Myron Naneng of Hooper Bay.
For more information on H.R. 218, click here.
To download video from today’s hearing, click here.
To download photos from today’s hearing, click here.
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WASHINGTON, DC – The Alaska Congressional Delegation today applauded President Trump’s signing of H.J. Res. 69, a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to overturn an August 5, 2016 rule by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that seized authority away from the State of Alaska to manage fish and wildlife on federal refuge lands in Alaska:
“Upholding the rule of law and protecting Alaska’s authority to manage fish and game throughout our state is critically important to me – which is why I worked tirelessly to eliminate this unlawful rule from the federal register,” said sponsor of H.J. Res. 69 Congressman Don Young. “I thank all those that made this moment a reality, including Senators Sullivan and Murkowski, the State of Alaska, numerous stakeholders, and our partners in Congress and the White House. The FWS rule was entirely inappropriate. Not only was it a major violation of laws passed by Congress, it undermined years of scientific and peer reviewed game management in Alaska and falsely vilified the people of my state. Because so many people have fallen victim to blatant falsehoods pushed by the Humane Society and others, it’s important to note that this resolution does not allow for ‘brutal, inhumane or unsporting’ hunting practices. The State of Alaska is very clear about that, this does not occur. This resolution was about the authority to manage fish and game in Alaska – as outlined in the Alaska Statehood Act and ANILCA. The Obama administration never ceased to amaze me when it came to trampling upon the promises made to the Alaskan people, and this rule was yet another blow to the rural residents of my state. I applaud all those that stood united with the Alaskan people. I’m proud to say logic, reason and the law won the day.”
“I thank President Trump for signing this important measure into law. This unlawful and unprecedented Fish and Wildlife rule was a prime example of why having the Congressional Review Act is so important,” said Senator Sullivan. “Specifically, the rule undercut meaningful public participation in refuge management decisions, utterly disregarded the legal protections and rights given to the state in the Alaska Statehood Act and ANILCA, and upended the cooperative relationship that has existed between federal agencies and the state for years. I was proud to work alongside Senator Murkowski and Congressman Young to pass this resolution in both bodies of Congress to restore the sovereignty of Alaska in managing fish and wildlife on our lands.”
“I was pleased to get a call from President Trump yesterday after he signed the disapproval resolution to overturn the rule restricting Alaska's ability to manage wildlife on federal refuge lands,” Senator Murkowski said. “By signing it, the president has upheld states’ rights, protected Alaska’s hunting and fishing traditions, and put a swift end to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s wanton effort to take greater control of nearly 77 million acres of our state. I thank all who supported this resolution – including Sen. Sullivan and Rep. Young, who sponsored the Senate and House versions of it – to restore our authority to determine the best practices for wildlife management in Alaska.”
On February 7, 2017, Alaska Congressman Don Young introduced H.J. Res 69 to overturn a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rule that significantly undermines public participation and restricts the state’s ability to manage fish and wildlife on federal refuge lands in Alaska. Senator Sullivan and Senator Murkowski are both the sponsors of Senate companion legislation to H.J. Res 69.
H.J. Res 69 passed the U.S. House of Representatives on February 16, 2017. The Senate passed H.J. Res 69 on March 21, 2017.
For detailed information on H.J. Res. 69 and Young’s efforts to overturn the August 5, 2016 FWS rule, click here.
Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans met to discuss Alaska Congressman Don Young’s legislation to authorize the expansion of the Terror Lake hydroelectric project on Kodiak Island, Alaska. The bill, H.R. 220, would streamline the Kodiak Electric Association (KEA) expansion project in a timely fashion and result in an additional 33,000 megawatt-hours of generation each year for the Island’s residents.
Congressman Young discussing H.R. 220, to streamline the expansion of the Terror Lake Hydroelectric Project in Kodiak (click here to watch).
“This is a project I worked on many, many years ago – to raise the level of Terror Lake and develop hydropower on Kodiak Island. Before we built this dam, Kodiak relied almost entirely on diesel fuel for electricity. Now, they are nearly 100% self-sufficient. With growing electrical demands by the U.S. Coast Guard and residents on Kodiak, KEA is now working to expand its hydro operations at Terror Lake,” said Congressman Don Young. “My legislation is a very simple measure to move this project forward – to get this project expedited and bring new power online for the community of Kodiak. Hydropower has tremendous potential in Alaska and I look forward to working with this administration to make hydro a renewable resource instead of an expendable one.”
H.R. 220 seeks to expedite the expansion of the Terror Lake Hydroproject in light of rising costs and a limited construction season. According to KEA, delaying construction by just one year would incur $11 million in additional project costs, which includes $1.3 million in costs associated with future supplemental diesel generation that will be required to meet electricity demand – costs that would be borne by the Island’s ratepayers, including the U.S. Coast Guard.
Young’s legislation would allow KEA to use no more than twenty acres of federal land within the Kodiak Island National Wildlife Refuge to construct, operate, and maintain the proposed Upper Hidden Basin Diversion Expansion – which would increase water resources at Terror Lake by 25% – without a need for further authorization from the Secretary of the Interior or under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).
Kodiak Electric Association President and CEO Darren Scott testifying in favor of H.R. 220 (click here to watch).
“The expansion of the Terror Lake Hydroelectric Project facilitated by this bill will provide the community of Kodiak with reliable and affordable electricity, sustain the economic vitality of our local fishing fleet, and ensure that the largest USCG base in the United States remains energy independent and energy secure….H.R. 220 is a common-sense approach for meeting Kodiak’s projected energy growth by maximizing existing infrastructure and meeting our community’s commitment to clean, affordable and reliable energy,” President and CEO of Kodiak Electric Association, Inc. Darren Scott said.
For detailed background on H.R. 220, please click here.
For hearing information, complete video and full witness testimony, please click here.
Washington, D.C. – In response to a pervasive lack of legal assistance for domestic violence survivors, Alaska Congressman Don Young this week joined Rep. Kennedy III (D-MA) to reintroduce the bipartisan POWER Act, which would help connect victims with legal representation. The bill is co-sponsored by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-IN), and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).
“Lack of access to legal representation allows fear and intimidation to follow sexual and domestic violence survivors into our courtrooms,” said Congressman Kennedy. “It undermines our justice system’s guarantee of equal protection at the moment that protection matters most. For the millions of domestic violence victims across our country, the POWER Act will help restore the sacred promise.”
Studies have shown that survivors who can afford or access a lawyer successfully obtain restraining orders in 83% of cases, compared to 32% without a lawyer. The POWER Act would require each U.S. Attorney’s office to annually host a public event supporting pro bono legal services for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. The U.S. Attorneys would report to the Department of Justice which will then compile a single report to Congress each year summarizing the events and discussing their effectiveness.
“I am proud to join Representative Kennedy in re-introducing the POWER Act in the 115th Congress,” said Congressman Don Young. “This legislation, which directs US Attorneys to hold annual events supporting pro bono legal services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, would make it much easier for victims of these terrible crimes to secure legal representation and justice. We must do all we can to support the victims of these terrible crimes, and the POWER Act serves as one step to achieve that goal.”
“When it often feels there is nowhere else to turn, survivors of domestic violence should know that there are resources available to them,” said Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. “This legislation encourages survivors to step out of the shadows, and break free from the cycle of abuse.”
“Survivors of domestic violence are not guaranteed access to a lawyer, a fact which can trap survivors in a cycle of abuse and prevent them from securing critical protective orders,” said Congresswoman Susan Brooks. “Civil legal services provide vital resources and advice to survivors and help them get out of abusive situations. Too often, survivors aren’t aware of or able to gain access to the legal resources available to them. The POWER Act will help connect victims of domestic violence to legal aid, empower survivors and raise awareness about the need for pro bono legal services.”
Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
“Pro bono assistance from our nation’s legal community has been a particularly helpful tool in giving hope to victims of domestic violence,” said Senator Dan Sullivan. “The POWER Act will bring this tool to more communities, encouraging lawyers across the country to get involved and help victims who too often fear or are unfamiliar with the justice system. It will create an army of pro-bono attorneys nationwide that will turn victims into survivors. I am optimistic that in the new Congress, with bills introduced in both chambers and a number of new colleagues signing on, we can get the POWER Act passed and onto President Trump’s desk.”
“No victim of domestic violence should have to live in fear for their safety because they can’t afford legal protection, but for too many voiceless women and men across the country, that every day fear is their reality. We can do better,” said Senator Heidi Heitkamp. “By making sure legal services are available to domestic violence victims, our bipartisan bill seeks to help end the cycle of violence that imprisons so many across this country. As former Attorneys General, Senator Sullivan and I both understand how the lack of access to legal services can prevent survivors from finding the assistance necessary to stop the cycle of abuse and escape their abuser. That’s why our bill asks U.S. Attorneys across the country to prioritize pro-bono legal work or services to address domestic violence in their states – particularly for the most vulnerable populations like women in North Dakota’s Indian Country – so victims of domestic violence can obtain the services and information they need to finally walk away from their abusers and move forward with their lives.”
Washington, DC— Alaska Congressman Don Young today joined Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) in sponsoring bipartisan legislation to exempt Alaska, Hawaiʻi, and Essential Air Service (EAS) communities from increases in Transportation Security Administration (TSA) air travel fees. The Passenger Fee Restructuring Exemptions Act (H.R.1782) recognizes the unique reliance on air travel that residents of Alaska and Hawaiʻi face by lowering the states’ TSA fee to $2.50 for interstate direct flights. Congress raised the national TSA fee to $5.60 in late 2013, and the President’s budget outline asks Congress to raise it in Fiscal Year 2018.
“Simply put, current aviation security fees disproportionately affect the residents of my state due to our unique reliance on air travel. I have opposed fee hikes in the past and have consistently worked with my Hawaiian colleagues to alleviate the hardships placed on those without transportation alternatives. This bipartisan legislation will address this inequity and allow our residents, who depend on air travel, to access and grow their economies without being overburdened by the growth of government fees,” said Rep. Don Young.
“The doubling of the TSA fee since 2013 has had a disproportionate, negative impact on Hawaiʻi residents and businesses who rely on air travel as the only available mode of transportation for everyday necessities like commerce, healthcare, education, and more. As Congress considers raising the TSA fee again, our bipartisan legislation will help relieve this cost burden by exempting Hawaiʻi and Alaska, and other communities who rely solely on essential air service, from this tax,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
“Hawaiʻi and Alaska share unique geographic challenges that make our dependence on air travel a necessity. As such, any increase in TSA fees disproportionately hurts our residents, tourists and businesses alike. This bill redresses that wrong by exempting Hawaiʻi and Alaska from the disparate impact of these fee increases,” said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.
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Washington, D.C. – Today, along with Representatives Duncan Hunter (R-CA), John Garamendi (D-CA), and Rick Larsen (D-WA), Alaska Congressman Don Young introduced H.R. 1816, the Icebreaker Act. This bipartisan legislation would specifically authorize the U.S. Navy to partner with the U.S. Coast Guard to procure up to six new icebreakers – three medium-class and three heavy-class – which are desperately needed to ensure the nation’s security and maritime interests are protected in the Arctic.
“Our nation is desperately in need of new icebreakers. With Russia, China, and other nations seeking to increase their presence in the Arctic region, the United States must get serious about updating its limited and aging fleet of icebreakers. This bill is very simple, it specifically authorizes the Navy, in consultation with the Coast Guard, to enter into a contract to build icebreakers,” said Alaska Congressman Don Young, Co-Chair of the Congressional Arctic Working Group and former Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “As development in the Arctic continues, including new resource development, potential shipping lanes, and other economic activities, we cannot afford to be left behind. By working together with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, this legislation helps pave the way to get it done.”
“The U.S. Coast Guard is a military service—first and foremost. It’s not the Navy that will break ice in the polar regions, it’s the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Rep Duncan Hunter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Coast Guard Subcommittee. “And while it’s the Coast Guard that will undertake the mission that’s supported by heavy and medium icebreakers, it’s a hard truth that the Coast Guard’s overall experience in such a major acquisition efforts and its budget restrictions prevent any real accelerated development of these assets which are urgently needed for U.S. national security. The Navy can supply the Coast Guard with not only best practices, but lessons learned—from development and construction, to the use of block buy authority. The Coast Guard owns the icebreaking mission, but the Navy can and should contribute to icebreaker development and production to the fullest extent possible in the best interest of American and global security.”
“The Arctic is an area of increasing economic and geopolitical importance, but we don’t have the icebreaking capabilities we need to meet our responsibilities and maintain our leadership in the region. This is a glaring national security oversight, and this legislation will help remedy that. The Navy and Coast Guard both have critical Arctic missions, and they must work together to ensure that these national security requirements are met, said Rep. Garamendi, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Coast Guard Subcommittee ”
“Earth’s climate is changing, and nowhere is it changing faster than the Arctic. Travel through the Arctic will increase, as will the opportunity to advance US scientific, military, and economic interests in the region. I am introducing this bill because unless the US addresses its current shortfall in icebreakers – as this bill aims to do – these opportunities will slip away,” said Rep. Larsen (WA-02), another senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Coast Guard Subcommittee.
Currently, the United States has only one active heavy icebreaker; the Polar Star, which requires significant federal investment to extend its service life to 2023. According to a June 2016 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, current projections show a looming three to six year gap in U.S. heavy icebreaking abilities at the conclusion of the Polar Star’s service life. The Coast Guard’s pending icebreaker operations gap has received significant attention since the GAO report was released, including in a July 12, 2016 hearing by the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.
Last year, Chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Subcommittee Rep. Duncan Hunter, in coordination with the Coast Guard and Navy, led an effort to create an integrated program office (IPO) for icebreaker development. However, the IPO is predicated on a temporary relationship and there is no indication that the Navy intends to continue consultation and coordination with the Coast Guard following the introduction of the first heavy icebreaker.
The Icebreaker Act works to resolve the many challenges associated with acquiring new Coast Guard icebreakers by specifically authorizing the Navy to work with the Coast Guard to procure up to three medium-class and three heavy-class icebreakers.
The legislation works to address the significant challenges of procuring new Coast Guard icebreakers by utilizing the Navy’s experience in ship building and its significant annual shipbuilding budget of roughly $20 Billion. As estimates place the cost of one single heavy-class icebreaker to be in the vicinity of $1 Billion, many believe it is impractical for the Coast Guard (whose annual procurement and acquisition budget is ~$1.25 billion) to procure an ice breaker itself. Further, the legislation capitalizes on the Navy’s previous leadership in procuring all currently operational icebreakers.
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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.