House passes two Alaska bills sponsored by late-Rep. Don Young

Greg Nash

The House on Tuesday passed two bills sponsored by the late Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who died last month after serving 49 years in the House.

The bills — dubbed the Alaska Salmon Research Task Force Act and the Don Young Alaska Native Health Care Land Transfers Act — both passed by voice vote. They were introduced by the congressman in December and January, respectively.

Young, who was known as the dean of the House for his status as the longest-serving member of Congress, died at the age of 88 on March 18 while traveling home to Alaska. 

The Alaska Republican was first elected to Congress in 1973 and continued serving until his death last month. Throughout his tenure in the lower chamber, he often pushed for projects that would benefit the Last Frontier.

The Alaska Salmon Research Task Force Act would direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to create a task force to examine research on Pacific salmon and point out areas that are in need of more research, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The task force would also support the sustainable control of salmon in Alaska and be required to create at least one working group to examine the topic of salmon migration in some western parts of the state.

Members of the task force will include a representative from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, among others.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) on the House floor Tuesday said the legislation is “a perfect example of how [Young] fought for what is best for Alaska.”

“I believe the bill is a fitting tribute to our departed friend. It elevates Alaskan voices, especially Native Alaskans, and it brings stakeholders together to build consensus and find a practical solutions to this pressing issue in our 49th state,” he later added.

Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.) on Tuesday said Young was discussing the need for the bill the day before he died.

The Don Young Alaska Native Health Care Land Transfers Act calls for the conveyance of roughly 11 acres of property to the Tanana Tribal Council in Tanana, Alaska. The bill also directs the conveyance of property to the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

The legislation was initially introduced by Young as the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Land Transfer Act.

Bentz on Tuesday said he thought it was “more than appropriate” that the bill was being renamed after the late congressman.

“Mr. Young will be deeply missed by all of us,” he added.

Grijalva said the legislation is “a testament to the legacy and advocacy” of Young, noting the Alaska Republican was working on the bill right before he died.

The Arizona Democrat said the bill was “a piece of legislation that [Young] was urging upon me to move as quickly as possible, and I’m glad that we’ve been able to get it to this point.”

Tags Don Young Raul Grijalva

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