Don Young just became the longest-serving congressman

U.S. Rep. Don Young has become the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives with the resignation Tuesday of Rep. John Conyers of Michigan amid harassment claims.

Young was first elected in an Alaska special election in 1973 — the year Secretariat won horse racing's Triple Crown and the movie "The Exorcist" was released.

Young was also named Monday to the House-Senate conference committee charged with resolving the differences between the federal tax overhaul plans passed by each chamber.

[Related: Alaska senators vote for tax bill, with extras for ANWR, cruise industry, Native corporations]

Young, in a prepared statement, said he would do "everything in my power" to ensure that a provision remains in the legislation to open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

The refuge language was inserted into the Senate's version of the tax plan with support from Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski; it wasn't in the House's package. Twelve House Republicans wrote to House Speaker Paul Ryan last week saying they're opposed to drilling in the refuge.

Murkowski said after her vote on the overhaul that she hopes to be named to the conference committee as well. The Senate's "conferees" haven't been selected.

Nathaniel Herz

Anchorage-based independent journalist Nathaniel Herz has been a reporter in Alaska for nearly a decade, with stints at the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Public Media. Read his newsletter, Northern Journal, at natherz.substack.com