A new Congress begins tomorrow and former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan will be sworn in as Alaska’s eighth U.S. senator since statehood. Sullivan spokesman Mike Anderson says guests for the event include Sullivan’s family, Gov. Bill Walker and several state legislators.
On the other side of the U.S. Capitol, the entire House of Representatives is to be sworn in tomorrow, but Alaska Congressman Don Young won’t be present, says spokesman Matt Shuckerow.
“Unfortunately, the congressman – his older brother just recently passed away. It was something unexepected and very sudden. We are saddened to hear that news and unfortunately the congressman will be absent this first week of the new Congress,” he said.
84-year-old Russell Young of Meridian, California, died a few days ago after a brief illness, Young’s office says. The Congressman’s younger brother in 2010. Shuckerow says Young will take the oath of office next week, likely on Monday.
“I think Alaskans understand that he’s dealing with a personal family matter and he’s excited to return here next week and to be sworn in and to get back working on the issues that are of concern to Alaskans,” Shuckerow said.
Young will miss the vote selecting the Speaker of the House. Republican John Boehner is expected to retain the gavel in what could be a close vote. Some of the more conservative Republicans have turned against Boehner, primarily for not fighting harder against President Obama on immigration. Shuckerow says Young would support Boehner over the other names that have surfaced as potential rivals.
With the Republican takeover of the Senate, Alaska’s senior senator, Lisa Murkowski, becomes chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. She’ll immediately be in the national spotlight because the Republican leadership has decided the first bill it will take up is the Keystone XL pipeline. Murkowski has scheduled a hearing on the bill in her committee on Wednesday and, as chairman, she’ll manage the debate on the Senate floor. In November, a bill to approve the Keystone Pipeline fell one vote shy of the 60 needed to advance in the Senate. Proponents gained at least two Senate votes in the election.