Don Young, Incumbent, Republican running in the Republican Primary
Biographical Information: Congressman Don Young was re-elected to the 116th Congress in 2018 to serve his 24th term as Alaska’s sole Member to the United States House of Representatives. First sworn in during the 93rd Congress after winning a special election, Congressman Young is today the Dean of the House and the longest serving Member of the entire Congress. As the most senior Member, Congressman Young has spent his career advocating for good governance, consensus building, and bipartisanship. He currently serves as the Republican Leader of the Federal Lands Subcommittee of the House Committee on Natural Resources, and was previously Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources as well as House Committee on Transportation. Recently, he was named the Most Effective Member of Congress by the nonpartisan Center for Effective Lawmaking. Congress Young continues to utilize his seniority and bipartisan relationships to move legislation on behalf of Alaska’s hardworking families.
Responses to Voter Guide Questions:
1. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution was passed by Congress in 1972 with an arbitrary deadline for ratification that other amendments have not had to meet. The ERA Amendment has finally been ratified by the required number of states and now Congress must vote to remove the deadline added to the 1972 Congressional approval. S. J. Res 6 will do that to allow the ERA to become part of the Constitution. Please discuss whether or not you support this bill and explain why.
Discrimination based on sex is wrong, and very frankly, should not be happening in the year 2020. As the father of two strong women, I don’t want to see opportunities denied to them or my granddaughters on the basis of sex. I support the goals of the ERA, but I believe the ratification process should start over. The first deadline for the ERA was set in 1972 and was due to expire in 1979. Between 1972 and 1979, 35 States, including Alaska, approved the ERA. This was 3 states short of the minimum required to ratify the amendment. Congress then extended the ERA deadline to June 30, 1982; however, additional states did not ratify the ERA, and five states actually withdrew support of the ERA before the new deadline. Although the deadline for the ERA has come and gone, I do believe in the Amendment. We must start the process over to ensure that the ERA is ratified constitutionally.
2. Many citizens see the country as very divided along partisan lines. In contrast, bipartisan effort in the creation of strong public policy is essential in our democracy. Please explain the opportunities you see for Democrats and Republicans to find common ground on the very serious issues facing our country.
Bipartisanship is foundational to our government, and necessary to promote prosperity for our country. In the 116th Congress, we came together to craft legislation to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. We knew that rising above partisanship would be necessary to bolster our health care response, help individuals and small businesses, and support our economy. I don’t think the sides are as far apart as it seems, and I believe we can find solutions to problems such as police reform, immigration, transportation funding, and health care. The reality is that my colleagues and I work together to advance legislation that benefits Americans. Voters play an essential role by electing representatives with a proven track record of putting personal agendas aside and reaching across the aisle. For me, bipartisanship has been a cornerstone of my career. I have consistently been recognized by the Lugar Center and Georgetown University as one of the most Bipartisan Members of Congress; I rank within the top 2% of all Members of Congress for bipartisanship. Additionally, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce named me a winner of the Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship, which recognizes demonstrated bipartisan leadership and constructive governing. Bipartisanship isn’t just talk; it directly translates into legislation. Last year, the nonpartisan Center for Effective Lawmaking named me the Most Effective Member of Congress. My effectiveness isn’t coincidental, it’s a testament to my ability to build coalitions, work across party lines, and get big things done for Alaska and our nation.
3. The Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA S. 561) is a bill that supports the right of every eligible citizen to have access to the voting process. Since 2013 when the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOUTUS) removed the pre-clearance process of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in Shelby vs Holder, the incidents of voter suppression have increased. The VRAA would modernize the pre-clearance process. Please discuss whether or not you support this bill and explain why.
I voted in favor of the Voting Rights Act of 1975 when it came to the House Floor on June 4, 1975, and then again when the Act was reauthorized on July 13, 2006. The act of voting is one of the most essential actions in which citizens across the country must participate in order to maintain a healthy democracy. As the Congressman of a culturally diverse state, I am fully aware of minority concerns, and believe discrimination and voter suppression is wrong. Alaska was among the states regulated under the Voting Rights Act due to English language tests that were once used to impact Alaska Native voting eligibility. There are instances of discrimination that still exist in our nation and they must be addressed. The Voting Rights Advancement Act would not affect Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which is a permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting, and can still be used to challenge discriminatory practices if they occur. All states must be uncompromising in their efforts to ensure that the voting rights of all Americans are not deprived.
4. Americans have watched or participated in weeks of protests that are motivated by the desire for justice and policing reforms. What kinds of policies, if any, would you pursue to promote social and racial justice in our society? If you do not think change is needed, please explain why.
The demonstrations in dozens of cities seeking justice for George Floyd’s death were a wake-up call illustrating the urgent need for comprehensive reform of the nation’s law enforcement departments. I am a proud cosponsor of H.R. 7278, the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act, which contains many bipartisan priorities needed to increase accountability and transparency and to provide solutions to police misconduct in neighborhoods across our country. The JUSTICE Act includes important provisions, such as requiring annual reporting on the use of no-knock warrants and issuing financial penalties to police departments for failure to do so. Additionally, it bans the use of chokeholds, provides funding for body cameras and storage for footage, and expands de-escalation training for police departments. The JUSTICE Act also closes the so-called “consent loophole,” making it unlawful for an officer to engage in a sexual act with a detained suspect and the bill makes lynching a federal crime, which I have previously supported in the House. Ultimately, the JUSTICE Act will maintain the Constitutionally limited role the federal government plays in local law enforcement decisions while still affecting significant change.
5. While the United States remains one of the world leaders in health care innovation, the cost of healthcare and healthcare insurance continues to grow beyond the financial means of many of our citizens. What do you propose for both the short and long term to ensure affordable healthcare access for all?
There are policies we must work to preserve, such as the protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Also a short-term area I am particularly concerned with is the rising costs of prescription drugs. Congress and the Administration have shown a renewed interest in this area and we need to find a path forward to lower costs and increase transparency while protecting the innovation necessary for companies to conduct research and create new products. Additionally, Congress is working on addressing the surprise billing that occurs when health care services are incidentally provided outside of a patient’s insured network and they then receive an unexpected bill. Long-term, I believe the ability to use telehealth and telemedicine, particularly in Alaska given its size, is an increasingly critical component to improve access to health care services for patients as well as reduce health care cost. While it cannot fully replace the need for all in-person appointments, in recent months we have seen how effective telemedicine has been in delivering health care services during the COVID-19 epidemic. I have introduced and supported different measures to strengthen and expand the telehealth system; this includes H.R. 6474, the Healthcare Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act, which I introduced with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA). The bill would provide $2 billion to expand telehealth and high-quality internet connectivity at public and nonprofit health care facilities, including mobile clinics and temporary health facilities deployed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.