Rep. Don Young has never been Alaska’s arch conservative, tea party favorite. He’s too supportive of labor, too supportive of congressional leadership, and despite what some in Alaska might think of him, he doesn’t play the fire-breathing Republican game very well. And his vote for the recent spending bill—despite all the goodies for Alaska in it–has again, and already, set him up as a target amongst some right-leaning Alaskans.
The $1 trillion-plus funding bill was passed late Thursday. It didn’t strip funding for Homeland Security, nor for ObamaCare, as some on the right had called for. However, it avoided a government shutdown, and did cut agency funding some, but not enough for fiscal hawks.
In a release defending his vote, Young said that he didn’t approve of such large spending bills, as opposed to individual appropriations. But it was the only choice Congress had given Democratic control of the Senate. Too, he said, the bill “takes a number of serious steps to stand up for fiscal responsibility, reduce the size of the federal government, defend the homeland and protect our men and women in uniform, and target much needed reforms for growing federal agencies like the EPA and IRS,” (See Young’s full press release below, along with details of funding for various programs in the bill.)
Mike Coons, the former head of the Conservative Patriots Group, and a very active Valley conservative, who has never been a Young fan, wrote on Facebook that it’s time to try to find a serious candidate to challenge the 81 year old Young. This is culled from Coon’s Facebook post:
“When will the House DO what WE THE PEOPLE have sent them there to do? STOP OBAMA!!!!! I have no doubt that next year will come, the Don will vote for Boehner for Speaker, again and then vote in lockstep with Boehner because neither of them have the BALLS to stand up and be real men!… We need, today, to start finding a viable replacement for Don Young!…This MUST be Don Young’s LAST 2 years in office!!!!!”
Judy Eledge, former head of the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club, linked to a story about the bill and about Republicans House members who voted against it, and hinted on her Facebook page that she was distressed by Young’s vote:
“We will remember the men of courage! We will also be watching the legislators in AK. Particularly the Republicans….you have the power now use it!”
It’s unclear how much sway Sarah Palin has, but her reactions can be a bellwether. She said that the vote was like the GOP “flipped American voters the bird.”
Palin said she hopes that the 162 Republicans who backed the bill face backlash.
Here’s Young’s release in full:
Congressman Young Shares Thoughts on House Passage of FY15 Appropriations Omnibus Bill
“Unfortunately, due to months of inaction and dysfunction on the part of the Senate Majority, we were once again faced with the threat of a government shutdown and yet another 11th hour funding package that leaves much to be desired. These types of manufactured emergencies are no way to operate and the American people deserve better.”
“In recent days, weeks and months, I have heard from countless Alaskans to express their heartfelt concerns for the fiscal security of this great nation. While this piece of legislation is no way for the Congress to operate, I do believe it takes a number of serious steps to stand up for fiscal responsibility, reduce the size of the federal government, defend the homeland and protect our men and women in uniform, and target much needed reforms for growing federal agencies like the EPA and IRS. However, until Congress returns to working order and passes individual appropriations bills, our nation’s growing debt and fiscal certainty may never be restored.”
“There is no question that the American people sent a resounding message this past November; that the failed policies of this President – including his efforts to operate around the will of the people and Congress – must end. Alaskans sent me to Congress to stand up for fiscal responsibility, fight back against onerous federal regulations, and stand up to executive overreach, and that is exactly what I will continue to do. I look forward to restoring the checks and balances of our federal government and once again address the concerns of the Alaskan people when our Republican majority arrives in Congress in January.”
Following the passage of the H.R. 83, Congressman Young expressed his disappointment with the exclusion of Secure Rural Schools funding from the package, a shortfall that could have been prevented had the Senate moved on federal forest policy legislation passed by the House in September 2013.
“The absence of Secure Rural Schools funding is a huge blow to forested communities in the West, particularly those in Alaska, which depend heavily on the program to lessen the impact of declines of revenue due to reductions in federal timber harvests. This delay in funding, which House leaders have committed to addressing in the first quarter of next year, will hamper our Alaskan school districts’ ability to plan and budget effectively.”
- Alaskan Interests included in the H.R. 83:
- Alaska Education Equity – $31.5M
- High Cost Energy Grants – $10M
- Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Fund – $65M
- Promotion of Alaska Native High Education Programs - $12.8M
- Brooks Camp bridge in Katmai National Park – $4.374M
- Alaska Conveyance Program – $22M
- State and Tribal Assistance Grants for water and wastewater infrastructure in Alaska Native Villages – $10M
- Emergency Power Plant Fuel Storage (Clear AFS) – $11.5M
- Kodiak Launch Complex and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), split equally – $6M
- Village Safe Water Program – $30M
- Denali Commission – $10M
- S. Army Corps of Engineers:
- Small, Remote, Subsistence Harbors $2.2M
- AK Regional (Arctic) Ports – $50k
- Craig Harbor – $300k
- Port Lions Harbor – $300
- Operations and Maintenance:
- Port of Anchorage – $11M
- Chena River Lakes – $3.6M
- Cook Inlet Shoals – $816K
- Dillingham Harbor- $540K
- Homer Harbor – $410k
- Lowell Creek Tunnel – $300k
- Ninilchik Harbor – $269k
- Nome Harbor – $1.451M
Provisions and Funding of Alaskan Interest Included in the H.R. 83:
- Requires the Postal Service to continue Saturday deliveries and keep all post offices open through the fiscal year.
- Blocks the EPA from banning bullets and fishing tackle made from lead, in addition to regulating lead content.
- Cuts the EPA by $60 million, which represents the fifth consecutive year of cuts – a 21% reduction since FY10 and lowest level of EPA staffing since 1989.
- Fully funds troop pay raises authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act.
- Provides $64 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding for our troops, to combat threats from ISIS, train and equip foreign allies, and support for Ukraine
- Prohibits the transfer or release of Guantanamo detainees into the U.S.
- Provides funding for 38 F-35 joint Strike Fighters.
- Fully funds the cost‐of‐living allowance shortfall for military retirees.
INDIAN AND ALASKA NATIVE:
- $4.6B for Indian Health Service Funding – a $208M increase from FY14
- $2.6 billion for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Education – a $70M increase from FY14
- $662.97M for Contract Support Costs
- $650M for NAHASDA block grants
- $75M for veterans rental assistance vouchers for Native American vets under a new Native Veterans Housing Demo Program.
- 811 Language: Retains language to require a GAO Report on the impact on Section 811 on Native Contracting.
- Fully funds Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) at $442 million
- Prevents new fees on onshore oil and gas producers.
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (IRS):
- Cuts IRS funding by nearly $350 million
- Prohibits IRS targeting of organizations based on their ideological beliefs or for exercising their First Amendment rights.
Prohibits the White House from ordering review of tax-exempt status.
- Provides $2.5 billion for processing VA disability claims to end the backlog
- Rescinds $41 million in performance based bonuses at the VA
- Provides flexibility for the Administration’s school lunch regulations.
- Prohibits the Obama Administration from implementing the UN Arms Trade Treaty.
- Allows for a one percent pay increase for federal employees to take effect January 1, 2015.
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