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Don Young: Senate Democrats still hibernating on House-passed bills

Rep. Don Young
Congressman Don Young, pictured here in a file photo from Jan. 22, 2014, takes issue with the Democratic U.S. Senate majority for ignoring or delaying action on a huge stack of bipartisan bills passed by the U.S. House, including many important to Alaskans. Loren Holmes photo

Even during these polarizing times, the House of Representatives has taken significant steps towards getting this country back on track and our economy moving by passing a wide range of bipartisan legislation. These bills, to name a few, work to expand job training and education opportunities across the country, encourage participation in the workforce, reduce onerous regulations facing small business owners, clear the path for the Keystone XL pipeline, and hold Department of Veterans Affairs officials accountable for their deplorable actions.

For Alaska, these are bills that work to peel back federal policies that suppress our local economies, restrict responsible resource development, and hamper our many vital industries; which includes legislation to open the NPR-A, ANWR and new areas of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas for resource development, in addition to improving the economic stability of our forestry dependent communities.

Unfortunately, for most of these House-passed bills, this is the last we’ll ever see of them. The Senate is the cave where more than 253 House-passed bills have been sent to begin their long hibernation -- waiting, never to be considered. In most cases, these bills will never see the light of day; not because they lack widespread support, but because the Senate Democrat majority has time and time again used partisan legislative tactics to block their consideration, inoculating their Ally-in-Chief in the White House from political defeat. This unwillingness to listen and aversion to take up even the most modest reform bills translates into the silencing of the American people and the principals our deliberative bodies were founded upon.

The magnitude of the Senate’s failures came to a head earlier in May as the Senate debated a bipartisan energy efficiency bill -- similar to legislation the House passed 375 to 36 in March -- to address our nation’s outdated energy policies. To nobody’s surprise, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid prevented any sort of reasonable changes to the Senate’s version of the bill, including amendments to streamline domestic energy production, reduce the EPA’s stranglehold on small businesses and approve the Keystone XL pipeline -- a project that would create 42,000 new jobs -- all policies that have previously passed the House.

By not allowing for the consideration of legislation or modest changes to a bill, Harry Reid stops even the slightest policy threat from ever reaching the White House, essentially creating a pocket veto for President Obama. Instead of polarizing the Senate and nation, by considering issues meant only to help re-elect his colleagues and maintain control of the Senate, Harry Reid should follow through on his leadership responsibilities and take up the stacks of bills the House continues to send his way.

My focus in Washington, D.C., remains the same as the day I arrived: to represent the best interest of all Alaskans, which means getting people back to work, creating good-paying jobs, growing the economy, and defending everyday Alaskans and Americans alike from overreaching federal policies. As Alaska’s sole voice in the House, these are the types of policies I continue to focus on in my capacity atop two powerful House committees and as the chairman of the Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee.

Anyone who’s ever been to my Washington, D.C., office has been greeted by a 1,300-pound Kodiak brown bear hide that stretches from wall to wall. This trophy, like the art and decorations that adorn my office walls, is a constant reminder of the great state and people I have so proudly represented in Congress for more than 40 years.

Much like the brown bear prepares for its winter hibernation, combing the landscape for nourishment and preparing for the spring days ahead when our favorable Alaska climate and landscape returns, the House of Representatives has been doing its part to prepare for a better tomorrow, combing the landscape for solutions to our nation’s problems, gathering support from across the country, and passing bills meant to reduce the federal government’s impact on the lives of everyday Americans.

The distinct difference, though, is as the grizzly grows restless and hunger sets in, spring inevitably arrives. Unfortunately, with little end in sight, the House still waits for a more favorable climate and landscape to return to Washington, D.C., to begin seeing action on the many bipartisan efforts we’ve presented to the Senate to address.

Congressman Don Young is Alaska’s lone delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives and is the House's longest-serving Republican member.

The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, e-mail commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.