Congressman Young Washington, D.C. Update
Even in this extremely divided Congress, where both sides have often already made up their minds on many of the issues we face, I've been fortunate enough to gather support around commonsense legislation to fix some of the many problems facing Alaskans and Americans across the country. This is an approach I continue to follow as my colleagues and I work towards legislation in the coming year critical to our Alaskan communities and economy.
Last year, I successfully navigated two bills through the legislative process of Congress, which is on pace to be the least productive since the 1940s. The two bills, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Land Transfer Act and the Vietnam Veterans Donors Acknowledgement Act of 2013, are among only 87 bills signed into law this legislative session.
I'm proud to serve as the longest serving House Republican and have worked hard over my 40 years to pass meaningful legislation. To date, I have passed more bills into law than any other member of the House of Representatives and continue to look for opportunities to make a difference here in Congress.
Congratulations to the 2014 Iditarod Champion Dallas Seavey
In all my years following the Iditarod, this year's finish was one for the history books. Like many Alaskans following the final stretch of the Last Great Race, I never would have imagined the spectacular finish that developed. I congratulate Dallas Seavey and his team on their determination and grit to overcome all odds to win the 42nd running of the Iditarod; a true testament to Alaska's competitive spirit. The Seavey family has certainly written their place in history; not only as the youngest and oldest winners but now as the fastest finisher in history.
Of course, we cannot overlook all the fierce competitors on the trail this year, especially second place finisher Aliy Zirkle and Jeff King, who both set a pace only Mother Nature could match.
Addressing Government Transparency and Excessive Regulations
The conversations surrounding abuses of our ever growing federal government and its lack of transparency is something that has gathered more and more attention as of late, especially following major events like Benghazi, IRS political targeting, NSA wire tapping, and Obamacare. I made a commitment long ago, one that I maintain today, that I will fight back against the growing concerns impacting the daily lives of Alaskans. Last month, my colleagues and I took a number of small steps forward in reigning in this Administration and its overreaching polices.
One of these disturbing abuses is the IRS' targeting of certain political groups for further auditing and investigation. Plain and simple, the IRS should not be targeting political beliefs of individuals or organizations when reviewing their financial documents, which is why I supported two pieces of legislation -- H.R. 3865, the Stop Targeting Political Beliefs by the IRS Act and H.R. 2531, the Protecting Taxpayers from Intrusive IRS Requests Act -- to prevent and delay further policy tactics for political discrimination.
President's Failure to Uphold Our Laws
Another issue of great concern is President Obama's blatant disregard for the laws of the United States of America. The Constitution of the United States clearly says that Congress is responsibility for writing and passing our laws. Once enacted, it is the President's responsibility to enforce them. However, this has not always been the case for President Obama, who on multiple occasions has chosen which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore because of political reasons. Some of these decisions include delaying the Obamacare employer mandate, ignoring the enforcement of certain immigration laws, implementing polices that regulate carbon emissions, and disregarding specific education policies.
The House of Representatives passed legislation this month, the ENFORCE the Law Act, to rein in executive overreach and restore the balance to the separation of powers set forth by the Constitution. While the practice of executive orders is not new, it has grown ever apparent that this Administration has decided to run the course alone without the approval of Congress. This is simply one step to preventing this spiraling federal overreach.
Air Force Considers Two Alaskan Bases for Fifth Generation of Fighter Jets
I shared my support for the selection of two Alaskan Air Force bases as final candidates for the next generation of fighter jets, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Among the five military installations named to house the newest fifth-generation jet fighters, Eielson Air Force Base and Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson (JBER) were among those selected as final candidates for two squadrons of twenty four F-35 Lightning II's.
Eielson Air Force Base and Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson (JBER) were among those selected as final candidates for two squadrons of twenty four F-35 Lightning II's.
The announcement by the Pentagon validates what we've been saying and working on for years; Alaska's strategic location and training grounds are too important to be overlooked. I sincerely believe there's no better place than Alaska to house the first generation of F-35 fighters, and the Air Force's announcement represents the latest step in that process.
I've always said that Alaska sells itself in what it provides our military, and from the beginning our case has been clear. From our 65,000 square mile Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC) -- recognized for its unique environment, size, and terrain-diverse landscape -- to our highly strategic location, Alaska would be a great home for these fighters. Most importantly, the opportunity to pair the Air Force's two 5th Generation Fighters, the F-22 and the F-35, in stealth-plus-stealth training in the JPARC is a vital part in ensuring that American air superiority continues for many decades to come.
Obamacare: Administration Announces Further Negative Effects of Law
Nearly two years after Congress required the Obama Administration to release a report on the impacts of Obamacare on small business, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) finally did last month.
Sadly, to nobody's surprise they announced that nearly two-thirds of Americans working for small businesses, or approximately 11 million people, will see higher premiums under the law. This is simply another attempt by the Administration to hide the truth and pain associated with this overbearing law.
On top of it all, due to Obamacare, CMS has proposed a 3.55% rate cut to the 2015 Medicare Advantage program; a decision that will impact approximately 15 million Medicare beneficiaries currently using the program. Both of these facts are further proof that Obamacare will reduce Americans' access to the care they want and increase the price of the care they are required to buy.
President Obama is once again playing by his own rules and has delayed portions of his healthcare law for big business. Rather than facing reality and delaying the entire law, the President continues to bypass Congress and pick and choose the relief he believes America needs.
My colleagues and I in the House passed legislation this month, with bipartisan support, to give the same breaks businesses will receive to many more Americans by suspending the penalty for the individual mandate. I believe all Americans deserve relief from the heavy hand of Obamacare and the President should stop playing favorites.
Congressman Young Votes to Restore Veteran Cuts
Last month, Congress restored veteran COLA funding cut in last year's budget deal. I proudly supported this House bill because it was the right thing to do by our veterans. The federal government must always honor the commitments it has made to our nation's veterans and asking our servicemen and women to shoulder a financial sacrifice when others do not is entirely wrong, especially when our veterans have already sacrificed so much in defending this great nation. This legislation solved a major inequity passed on to our veterans and restores all earned benefits cut last year. I am proud to represent the more than 77,000 veterans and the 20,000 active duty servicemen and women who call Alaska home and will continue to work in defense of their service.
Congressman Young Honored with Champion of Public Broadcasting Award
Last month, Congressman Don Young was recognized by the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) for his dedication towards protecting and safeguarding local public television stations across the country. Congressman Young was presented with the Champion of Public Broadcasting Award for his commitment towards providing educational, public safety and civic engagement services to communities across the country.
Congressman Young receiving the "Champion of Public Broadcasting Award" in Washington, D.C.
"Congressman Young has been a strong supporter of public broadcasting for many years," said Patrick Butler, president and CEO of APTS, "and he recognizes the essential nature of our educational, public safety and civic engagement services to the people of the Last Frontier. We are particularly grateful that Congressman Young has agreed to serve as co-chair of the Congressional Public Broadcasting Caucus with Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon -- a very important step in building the bipartisan support for public broadcasting we seek in Congress. Thanks to Don Young and many others who have signaled their support, we believe we have made significant progress in the 113th Congress. For all of these reasons, we are honored to present Congressman Young with the Champion of Public Broadcasting Award."
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Makes Commitment to Alaska
Congressman Young met with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler last week to discuss communication issues facing both rural Alaska and rural America, particularly the development of 21st Century broadband infrastructure in remote and isolated communities.
Chairman Wheeler and Congressman Young had a productive meeting to discuss infrastructure concerns across the state of Alaska, ranging from Barrow to Adak and everywhere in between. Congressman Young was quick to remind the FCC Chairman that, more often than not, Alaska does not fit into the same mold as the Lower 48 and this fact needs added attention when the FCC takes on reforms. Chairman Wheeler and his staff made a commitment to work to ensure Alaska's unique makeup is not overlooked as the FCC continues to work on Universal Service Fund reforms.
Congressman Young Shares Stories with the Washington Post
Congressman Young sat down with the Washington Post to shed some light on his 40-year tenure in Congress by sharing a number of stories spanning his career, from his first weeks in the halls of Congress to his thoughts moving forward as Congressman for all Alaska.
Congressman Young Moves Subsistence Legislation Through Committee
Congressman Young recently moved legislation through Committee to resolve a longstanding issue affecting the Huna Tlingit people. Due to government rules and regulations the practice of gull egg harvesting in Glacier Bay was prohibited in the mid 1960s. Now, after much work Congress is working to reopen this important subsistence harvest.
Congressman Young spoke to the U.S -- Canada Arctic Roundtable hosted by the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region. Arctic Caucus co-chairs, Alaska Senator Lesil McGuire and Representative Bob Herron, hosted a very productive meeting on the critical role Alaska plays in the region. Among the many issues discussed, Congressman Young emphasized growing national support for the Arctic, revenue sharing for Alaska from development on the Outer Continental Shelf, and the need to bolster the nation's icebreaker fleet.