US House pays tribute to Don Young by passing salmon task force bill
The U.S. House of Representatives honored the late Don Young on Tuesday, 26 April, by passing legislation the longtime Alaska Republican congressman sponsored.
Young first won the state’s only House seat in 1973. He was the “Dean of the House,” a term given to the longest-tenured member in Congress. He died at age 88 on 18 March while traveling back to the state from Washington, D.C.
One of the bills, H.R. 6651, calls for NOAA Fisheries to empanel an Alaska salmon research task force. The bill, which Young filed in February 2022, calls for a committee of 13 to 19 fishery and marine experts to study existing research into salmon, determine what other research needs to be conducted, and develop strategies to make sure salmon species remain abundant in the state.
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona) said on the House floor Tuesday that the bill was “a perfect example of how he fought” for Alaska’s best interests.
“I believe the bill is a fitting tribute to our departed friend,” Grijalva said. “It elevates Alaskan voices, especially Native Alaskans, and it brings stakeholders together to build consensus and find a practical solution to this pressing issue in our 49th state.”
U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Oregon) said Young spoke about the bill with members of the Natural Resources Committee the day before he died, on 18 March.
“Since 2018 alone, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued 14 fisheries disasters determinations in Alaska,” Bentz said. “This bill seeks scientific answers and recommendations to solve these declining salmon runs.”
The bill passed by a voice vote and now heads to the Senate.
A special election will be held to fill Young’s seat, with 51 candidates listed by the Alaska Division of Elections. State officials began sending out primary ballots for the mail-in-only election on Wednesday, 27 April. Ballots must be returned by 11 June, 2022.
The special general election to choose Young’s successor will take place on 16 August, 2022.
Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons