What others say: Murkowski, Young aiming to keep ANWR oil provisions

  • By Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Editorial
  • Sunday, December 17, 2017 11:41am
  • Opinion

House and Senate Republican leaders are hoping Congress will vote on and approve a reconciled Senate tax bill before Dec. 22. In the meantime, the Reconciliation Conference Committee, which consists of House and Senate members, is working toward an agreement.

The proposed overhaul could be the most sweeping tax reform in three decades. Alaska’s Rep. Don Young and Sen. Lisa Murkowski were chosen by their respective party leaders to negotiate and push the legislation through. They have not said lots on the subject, but not every state has two members on the committee. So how will Alaska benefit from their appointments?

Key differences between the House and Senate bills include the Senate version’s elimination of the mandate for individuals to purchase health care and the date on which a reduction in the corporate tax rate would be implemented.

During an interview with Neil Cavuto on FOX Business, Rep. Young said there is a difference of opinion between House and Senate committee members, but he said the goal is to pass the tax bill.

Rep. Young told Mr. Cavuto there are provisions in the bill that would help more heavily taxed states, but he is not so concerned because they won’t really affect Alaska.

“I’m more interested in the development of ANWR,” Rep. Young told the television host. Rep. Young has been fighting to open the 1.5 million-acre “1002” area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge since it was created in 1980, when the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act was passed.

He also told Mr. Cavuto that he thinks the corporate tax rate should be lowered to 20 percent, as it stands in the Senate bill, but he thinks it will likely end up at 22 percent before the bill moves past the committee.

Sen. Murkowski, who repeatedly voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act, said last month that Congress should focus its attention on fixing the health care system after the tax overhaul is passed.

Last month, she said it will be important for Congress to pass the bipartisan Alexander-Murray health care bill to stabilize the health-care market, and Alexander-Murray would be more important if the individual mandate to purchase health care is repealed with the Senate tax bill.

The individual mandate could be repealed, and Sen. Murkowski has remained mum on the subject of health care since then.

She did release a prepared statement touting the bill’s tax relief and energy development in Alaska after being appointed to the committee:

“I’m very confident that we will quickly reach agreement to provide tax relief to families and job creators while strengthening the long-term energy security of our nation. With Congressman Young representing the House of Representatives on our energy provisions, Alaskans will have a very strong voice at the table to ensure this bill crosses the finish line.”

Indeed, Alaskans will have a strong voice in favor of developing the 1002 area in ANWR.

Can you imagine our sometimes brash Rep. Young rolling over and letting this provision be struck from the bill?

The one clear takeaway from Rep. Young’s and Sen. Murkowski’s statements since the bill passed is that they want to see the provision for oil and gas development in ANWR survive the committee process. Having two members of Congress on the negotiating committee is a sure sign of progress on the matter.

— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,

Dec. 12

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