While Alaskans know and understand the unique relationship we share with the federal government – clearly defined by our statehood compact and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANCILA) – it’s a constant battle in Congress to educate my colleagues and push back against policies and regulations that undermine our state’s social and economic future. Over the past month, Alaskans saw a number of important battles play out before the House – in defense of ANWR, against attempts to take away our lands and wildlife, for our pilots and one of a kind aviation system, and for Alaska’s strategic military value – and I’m proud to announce successes along many fronts. Thank you once again for being part of this newsletter and for actively engaging on the issues before Congress.
Young Questions Secretary Jewell in House Natural Resources Committee
Congressman Young questions DOI Secretary Sally Jewell (click here to watch).
This week, before the House Committee on Natural Resources, I had the opportunity to question Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell on this administration’s many actions and proposals that ignore federal law and take away the rights of Alaskans to responsibly access and develop its lands and many resources.
One item I touched on was the Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed rule in the state Alaska that takes away our authority to manage fish and game. The Department of Interior asserts their actions are allowed by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, but as the original sponsor of that Act I know it clearly states that ANILCA takes priority over any conflicts regarding refuge lands in Alaska. Yesterday, I made sure Secretary Jewell knew we’d be fighting this clear example of government overreach every step of the way.
House Defeats Legislation to Designate ANWR’s Coastal Plain as Wilderness
This week, Alaska once again fell under attack by outside interest groups and its allies in Congress. For the first time since the President announced his misguided proposal to designate the coastal plain of ANWR as wilderness, Congress voted on the matter. I’m happy to report that we successfully fought back against this amendment and sent a resounding message to the White House: Attacks on Alaska’s future will not be tolerated.
Click here to read more about attempts in the House to lock away ANWR’s coastal plain and its billions of barrels of oil.
Congressman Young fights back against amendment to designate the 10-02 area of ANWR as wilderness (click here to watch).
Media Report: Young defends ANWR on House Floor (click here to watch)
Young Secures Amendment to Reverse Recent Rulemaking by Fish and Wildlife and National Park Services
The recent rulemakings by the Fish and Wildlife (FWS) and the National Park Service (NPS) would fundamentally alter Alaska’s unique relationship with the federal government (as defined by the Alaska Statehood Compact and ANILCA), from one of cooperation to servitude. This week, I successfully included an amendment to the Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act that would strike down the FWS’ proposal to restrict state-approved management practice and the NPS’ rule to regulate hunting and trapping in Alaska preserves. Both rules are clear-cut examples of federal overreach and must not be allowed to stand.
For more information about my amendment, click here.
Congressman Young speaking in favor of his amendment to reverse recent rulemaking by the FWS and NPS (click here to watch).
Young Welcomes Next Step in F-35 Beddown at Eielson AFB
Last week, the Air Force released the next step in bringing two squadrons of F-35’s to Eielson Air Force Base, its Final Environmental Impact Statement.
I have long supported bringing the F-35s to Eielson, not only for the positive economic impacts it will bring to our state, but for the critical mission the F-35s will support. No other location in the world offers the strategic value offered in Alaska, and the Air Force has recognized that. This beddown works to protect our national security, accomplishes a mission achieved nowhere else in the world, and ensures the Air Force and nation have the assets and capabilities available in any time of need.
I’m proud to have played a role in this process, having secured language in each of the last two National Defense Authorization Acts that emphasized Alaska’s immense military value and the benefits Eielson offers the Air Force. I thank both Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Dan Sullivan for the united effort we have made to ensure the Air Force understands that there is no better location in the Asia-Pacific Region to base these F-35s.
House Panel Reviews Young’s Proposal for State Management of National Forest Lands
The federal government’s broken forestry management system needs drastic improvements. What should be a straightforward and balanced process is in reality a complicated web of delays, litigation and burdensome management practices.
This week, I testified before the House Subcommittee on Federal Lands in support of legislation I proposed to allow states like Alaska to manage and operate certain National Forest system lands. This bill works to address the major failures of our federal land management agencies, while giving our state’s an opportunity to do better.
Click here for more information about H.R. 3650, the State National Forest Management Act.
Congressman Young testifying before the Subcommittee on Federal Lands on H.R. 3650 (click here to watch).
Young Secures Alaskan Changes to FAA Reauthorization
Last month, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee reviewed legislation that would significantly change the aviation system in the United States. As I told the bill’s sponsor, unless this bill is changed to recognize Alaska’s unique aviation interests, I will not support it.
While there are still many improvements to be made, I was able to secure a number of Alaska specific changes to the bill - restoring critical funds for Essential Air Service (a program that serves more than 49 rural Alaska communities), making major user fee exemptions for our Part 135 operators (air taxis and charters that service every corner of our state) and ensuring Alaska’s safety and navigational assets cannot be sold or shuttered in the future.
This is an ongoing process, and I intend to fight for Alaska as this bill moves forward. Congress must understand the vital role aviation plays in the lives of all Alaskans.
Click here to learn more about my fight for Alaskan aviation interests in the FAA bill.
Congressman Young discussing H.R. 4441, the AIRR Act, before the House T&I Committee (click here to watch).
Future of JBER’s 4-25
When the Obama administration announced its plan in 2014 to reduce the Army’s size from 490,000 to 450,000 the world was a very different place. Since then, global threats have grown and our security environment has worsened.
The risks are real, be it ISIS spreading violence across the globe, a nuclear ambitious North Korea, or Russia actively expanding its military footprint by reopening Soviet-era military bases and positioning four new combat brigades above the Arctic Circle. To adequately protect our interests worldwide, we must have a sufficient land force, including the only airborne brigade in the Pacific Theater, JBER’s 4-25 ABCT.
For months, Senator Dan Sullivan, Senator Lisa Murkowski and I have made the case against reducing the Army force structure at JBER. Not only is 4-25 the only airborne brigade in the Pacific – with extensive training in cold weather, mountainous and Arctic environments – Alaska continues to be the most strategic location in the world. I was pleased to see Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley testify last week that the administration’s misguided decision to reduce military troops in Alaska is “contrary to US strategic national security interests” and that he would recommend deferring the decision by at least one year.
I recently sponsored legislation, the POSTURE Act, that would prevent the cuts facing Alaska and JBER. I’m pleased to join a unified Alaska delegation in defending Alaska’s unique military value in the Asia-Pacific and Arctic regions.
Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley discussing JBER's 4-25 (click here to watch).
Young Responds to President’s FY17 Budget Proposal
While I appreciate the increased attention the President’s budget proposal brings to Alaska and the Arctic, including the nation’s growing need for a polar class icebreaker and the unique challenges facing Alaskan families and communities, overall this budget is more of the same – an explosion of new taxes, no constraints on our skyrocketing federal debt, and a double down of failed federal policies.
Read my full thoughts on the President’s budget by clicking here.
Coast Guard Authorization Becomes Law, Enacting Three Federal Land Transfers Introduced by Congressman Young
A victory for Alaska’s mariners, fishermen and Coast Guard family, H.R. 4177, the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2015 was recently signed into law. This law will strengthen the Coast Guard’s mission, bring us closer to updating our aging fleet of icebreakers and eliminate a series of overbearing rules and regulations placed upon our fishermen and mariners.
Included were three separate provisions I introduced to move federal lands – in Tok, on Point Spencer, and in the Pribilof Islands – back to state and private ownership. These land transfers included:
• The Point Spencer Land Conveyance Act, sponsored in the Senate by Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Dan Sullivan , transfers 2,500 acres of federal land to the State of Alaska and the Bering Straits Native Corporation (as part of the ANCSA land allotment) to streamline timely development of the region.
• The Tok Land Transfer, which authorizes the conveyance of unused U.S. Coast Guard housing facilities to the Tanana Chiefs’ Conference to ensure the continuation of the region’s only behavioral health clinic.
• The Pribilof Islands Transitions Act of 2015, which authorizes the transfer of federal lands to the village corporations of Saint Paul and Saint George Islands.
Congressman Young on House passage of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 (click here to watch).
Alaskans in DC
I had the honor of meeting with Walter Watts Jr., Bill Yudiskas, and Bob Myles, Alaskan members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), during their recent visit to Washington, D.C. They presented their 2016 legislative priorities, which included maintaining a strong national defense, ensuring all veterans receive the health care they earned, as well as increasing specialized care for our many female veterans—three things I support 100%.
The value of good nutrition and a healthy meal cannot be overstated, especially for our children and seniors. I am proud to support food security programs at every stage of life because of the important role they play in our communities. I proudly participated in the Meals for Wheels letter signing initiative, to share a positive message to Alaskan seniors participating in this important program.
I had the privilege of meeting with Alaskan members of the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, and Sons of the American Legion. Among many topics, we discussed the ongoing issues with the VA and the need for increased accountability. America’s veterans deserve our utmost appreciation and support, and I will continue fighting to ensure they receive the benefits they earned through service to our nation.
I recently met with members of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly to discuss a number of critical items, including PM 2.5 and the status of the military.
A group of middle school students from Hydaburg recently stopped by during their Close Up visit to the nation’s capital. These remarkable young women raised more than $17,000 in order to fund their trip. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.
I’m honored to serve as Chairman of the Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee, which directly oversees legislation that impacts more than 100,000 Alaska residents. I recently spoke before the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) to outline my efforts to advance policies that empower Native communities, promote economic opportunity, and uphold the federal government’s trust responsibility.
Supporting our Military
I had the distinct pleasure of attending the 39th Annual Salute to the Military hosted by the Armed Services YMCA of Alaska. There, I proudly met the evening’s honorees – 12 of Alaska’s best military men and women, honored for their excellence in service and embodiment of Service Before Self.
As an Army veteran myself, I take great pride in our military and share a deep appreciation for the vital role they play in so many Alaskan communities. Not only do these men and women fulfill their daily mission, they serve as coaches to our kids, volunteers for our non-profits, and mentors to our youth. Simply put, our military men and women are critical to the success and strength of Alaska.
Congratulations to the honorees, and a big salute and thank you to our military!
The USO Alaska Center and USO Wellness Center at JBER, which opened last week, is a remarkable new facility designed to support mission readiness and the well-being of Alaska’s military men and women, and their families.
I thank all those involved in bringing this facility to JBER, including USO CEO Dr. J.D. Crouch II and USO Alaska Center Director Tara Mogan. Hats off to V Rae for donating the amazing Alaskan artwork.
#Throw Back Thursday
Flying to Alaska aboard Air Force One with President Gerald Ford
In The News
Alaska Dispatch News: Young hits Interior Secretary with complaints over Alaska lands
Alaska Public Radio Network: Rep. Young wins lightning round on bears, feds, ANWR
Politico: Lawmakers load up FAA bill with goodies