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Hello, this is Congressman Don Young coming to you from my desk in Washington, D.C. We’ve had a good week in Congress – one of the better weeks we’ve had in some time. We’ve been able to pass a number of bills out of the House and hold hearings on a wide range of important legislation, including one that I sponsored – H.R. 221, the Hydrographic Services Improvement Act.
Congressman Young gives an update from Washington, D.C. on the important work being done for Alaska (click here to watch)
As you likely saw, we had a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Senator Lisa Murkowski, on oil and gas development in the 1002 Area of ANWR and the benefit it holds for Alaska and the nation. Senator Murkowski did a great job in chairing the meeting and was very collected as her Ranking Member, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), was as I would say “being enlightened.” Senator Sullivan also did a wonderful job, as a former Alaska DNR Commission and U.S. Marine, to discuss the important national security impacts this area holds for the nation and the responsible record Alaskans have had on the North Slope for over 50 years.
As some of you may have seen, in my testimony I drew a little blue dot on my nose to illustrate the size of the surface area being proposed for development in the 1002 Area (2,000 acres) in comparison the ANWR area as a whole – which represents 1/10th of 1/10th percent of the 19 million acre area. Many have used the comparison of a dime on a football field, but this was my way of showing the true surface disturbance in the region.
Congressman Young poses for a photo before his testimony in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
As a matter of history, the 1002 Area of ANWR was created by an Act of Congress in 1980. There was an agreement at the time that this area would be set aside for future development, not permanent preservation. Although many have entirely ignored the intent of Congress, we are once again working through the budget reconciliation process to end the moratorium on oil and gas development on the coastal plain of ANWR.
Elsewhere in Congress, which ties into our efforts on ANWR, was the introduction of tax-related legislation in the House – H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This overall effort is aimed at updating our nation’s outdated and over complicated tax code with growth-driven reforms, those that empower middle class families, support entrepreneurship and small business, and drive American competition and competitiveness. This is a complicated process, and changes have already been announced, but I do believe tax reform should be pursued. But very simply, this is just the beginning of the process – one that will be combined down the road with our efforts to open ANWR.
Today, we also passed an important bill, H.R. 3922, the Championing Healthy Kids Act, bipartisan legislation to fund important safety net programs like the state Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP), known as Denali KidCare in Alaska, and Federal Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). We’ve seen the success of both Denali KidCare and Community Health Centers across nearly every corner of our state, particularly in areas where services might otherwise not be offered due to population size and remoteness. I look forward to moving this package forward and ensuring these programs are renewed for the betterment of our state and our people.
All in all, it was a good week for Alaska. I’m excited to continue Alaska’s work in the U.S. House of Representatives and to rejoin many of you in Alaska to speak on the many issues before us.
Congressman for All Alaska