One thing about the Alaska delegation: It never gives up on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s 1002 Area.
On Dec. 20, 2018, the U.S. Senate passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut that delivered on promises of both the Trump Administration and the GOP majority. Tucked into the bill was a provision Alaskans have been working toward for two generations — the “10-0-2” area to oil and gas exploration.
The strength of the Alaska delegation came to bear with inclusion of the ANWR provision in the final tax package. That provision puts the 1002 area into oil and gas production over the next few years, something that the Alaska delegation has been trying to do for 38 years, since passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) under President Carter.
A portion of the lease sale bonuses and subsequent royalties from ANWR will be revenue to replace taxes that the federal government will forgo through the tax cuts, which is how the provision made it into the historic tax bill.
The 51-48 vote put tax reform, Obamacare individual mandate rollback, and ANWR within an inch of the goal line. Now, due to some technical details found by Democrats, it goes back to the House for a vote, but should be final before noon today, Alaska time.
The offices of Congressman Don Young, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Sen. Dan Sullivan will hold a media availability morning. The president is expected to sign the legislation today and it will go into effect immediately.
The gallery in the Senate was filled with Alaskans well into the early morning, there to watch history in the making. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s energy committee staff was jubilant, even at 2 a.m., having witnessed what many others had tried to do for years. It took the right White House, and the right combination of senators, assigned to the right committees, to get it down.
Murkowski is chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee at the right time in history. Congressman Young is the senior member of the House of Representatives. Both were assigned to the tax bill’s Conference Committee, which hammered out differences between the Senate and House versions of the tax bill. Both were there in part to keep a close eye on the ANWR provision.
During the historic Senate floor session, Murkowski wore Incredible Hulk earrings she had never worn before, and her matching Hulk scarf that she has worn in honor of the late Sen. Ted Stevens, who had also fought to open ANWR.
Sen. Stevens well known for wearing his Incredible Hulk tie when arguing for the opening of the 1002 area while in the Senate, as seen in this photo during debate on the Senate floor many years ago.
Sen. Dan Sullivan also addressed the Senate during debate last night, using his time to speak to the importance of lower taxes for nearly all taxpayers, and the importance of the Obamacare individual mandate rollback.
“They [Americans] are penalized for not buying something they cannot afford,” he said, just hours after returning from a trip to Afghanistan to visit Alaskan military personnel who are stationed there.
The Alaska delegation did not issue a joint statement after the Senate vote, deciding to wait until the House takes its final action. But they expect to meet with the media today to discuss the tax reform package. That press availability will likely take place at about 1 pm Alaska time.