With Democrats taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives, players will emerge in roles that may impact Alaska’s oil patch, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in particular.
California Democrat Rep. Nancy Pelosi is likely to return as House Speaker in the new year. She’s a foe of oil drilling in Alaska, and her California constituents see eye-to-eye with her on that.
The House Natural Resources Committee gavel will also change from Rep. Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican, in favor of the ranking minority member on that committee.
That person is Rep. Raúl Grijalva of the Arizona area bordering Mexico, who is an opponent of oil drilling in ANWR, who will probably now chair the committee.
Grijalva has introduced legislation time and again and signed letters to lock up the ANWR Coastal Plain. Grijalva’s aides are among the extreme environmentalist cause agents of liberal East Coast Democrats.
Congressman Don Young is the chair emeritus of Resources, but under the new regime, he’ll be in the minority.
Because of his seniority, he’ll retain a seat on the committee, but Republicans are likely to lose about six seats. Democrats will gain those seats and fill one additional vacant seat they now have on the committee.
Democrats like Grijalva could try to foil last year’s ANWR legislation, signed by President Trump on Dec. 20, 2017. They may attend to defund the related programs at the Department of Interior, or offer a “limitation amendment,” that says no funds may be used for lease sales in the ANWR 1002 area.
Over in the Senate, still under Republican control, such bills are not likely to pass, and the president wouldn’t sign the bill anyway — President Trump is very bullish on ANWR and considers last year’s legislation a signature accomplishment.
But Alaskans can expect national Democrats to use various nuisance tactics to shut down Alaska’s efforts to drill in a limited area of ANWR. They’ll try to make ANWR a toxic investment for companies through the public shaming process now honed to a science by the far Left.
In addition to a changing of the guard in the House Resources Committee, there are freshmen Democrats who helped flip the House who have, during their campaigns, signed a pledge to sponsor legislation to shut ANWR down.
From California to Florida, these eight members are on record: Gil Cisneros, Harley Rouda, and Mark Levin of California, Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona, Jason Crow of Colorado, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Florida, Dean Phillips of Minnesota, and Kim Schrier of Washington.
WHAT ABOUT DON YOUNG?
Congressman Young currently serves as the most senior member of the House Natural Resources Committee and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
As Alaska voters returned Congressman Young to the nation’s Capitol for his 24th term, Young used his legislative prowess as Dean of the House to offer a unique amendment just before Thanksgiving.
The amendment took place during an organizational meeting. It said that if there is a Republican Dean of the House, that member is automatically put on the House Steering Committee, which is the committee on committees.
It was ingenious. He is the Dean of the House. He is a Republican.
The amendment was read aloud. And although it was blatantly self-serving for Alaska, it passed. It was reported that one senior Republican advised freshmen: “Don’t go against Don Young. It’s just not worth it.”
Now, Young is going to be one of key members of Congress who is helping a pick the ranking member on the Appropriations Committee. He’s become among the chosen few who will pick all the leadership for the Republican Conference.
The move will matter on Thursday, when the House Republican Steering Committee decides who the next Republican leader is for the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
Four candidates are being discussed: Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Kay Granger (R-Texas), Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Tom Graves(R-Ga.).
The process could take hours and will involve multiple balloting.
Young, through his clever amendment, made sure he’d be part of the key panel making that decision.
Alaska’s congressman served his first 22 years in the minority, from 1973-1995, and he has a knack of getting things done as a member of the minority. He can navigate the halls, and knows the procedures on the floor and off, as evidenced by his move to get on the committee on committees as soon as he saw he’d be in the minority again.
This insight and quick reaction time is important to Alaska, particularly when the two chambers are negotiating.
It’s hard to imagine how his opponent Alyse Galvin would have fared in this environment — or how Alaska would fare with Galvin, the woman who ran under the Democrats’ banner in the primary, but was actually registered without any party in the General Election, in Congress.
Galvin would have entered Congress with distinct disadvantages as a so-called independent.
Young, with his senior status and legislative prowess, does a good job fending off attacks on Alaska.
“Part of his effectiveness is that his colleagues don’t want to challenge him because they know he will fight tooth and nail for Alaska,” said one DC observer.
Although Alaska policy experts will want to keep an eye out for rogue attacks on the state’s resource-based economy, if Galvin had won, and if Mark Begich was being sworn in as governor, Alaskans would have a lot more to worry about concerning the reversal of the historic opening of ANWR.
After all, after 40 years of effort by the Alaska delegation, the House of Representatives voted 224-201 for that legislation in 2017, and it was largely along party lines.
With Democrats now in charge in the House, Young — Alaska’s only congressional representative — will have his work cut out for him as Alaska’s watchdog.