Young gives Trump a hand at bill signing

Rep. Young says he kept his hand on the president’s chair to make a point. (APM illustration from C-SPAN video)

Alaska Congressman Don Young was at the White House Monday to see the president sign a bill that repeals an Obama administration rule known as “BLM Planning 2.0.”

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Last year, then-Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the rule was intended to give the public a greater voice when the BLM draws up regional management plans.

Young said it would have let national environmentalists drown out the input of Alaskans.

“They were getting voices, yes, but they were voices from the outside,” Young said after he left the White House. “And you know I don’t like any voice from the outside. I want Alaskans to be running Alaska.”

Young said he’s been to the White House about 20 times before, but this is the first time with President Donald Trump in office. During the brief ceremony, Young stood behind the president’s desk and kept his hand on the back of Trump’s chair. Young says that’s an “old trick” that he’s deployed before, to signal proximity to the executive.

“Hand on the chair (shows) I’m supporting the president, and then he likes my support,” Young said.

The repeal of the BLM rule is another step toward shrinking President Obama’s environmental legacy. Young co-sponsored the repeal bill. Sen. Lisa Murkowski sponsored the Senate version and also watched Trump sign the bill. She was in a crowd of lawmakers around the president’s desk, a few feet away.