Rep. Young named ‘chairman emeritus,’ loses power of the gavel

Alaska Rep. Don Young. Photo: Liz Ruskin.

For most of the past 20 years, Alaska Congressman Don Young has been either a committee or subcommittee chairman. But now he wields no gavel.

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Spokesman Matt Shuckerow said Young reached the end of a six-year term as chairman of the subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs.

“House and Senate Republicans instituted a term-limit on committee chairmanship or leadership roles in 1994. And so that’s kind of the nature of where we’re at,” Shuckerow said.

Young will continue to be a member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and the Natural Resources Committee, two panels he used to chair. In addition, Shuckerow said Young has been named “Chairman emeritus” of the Resources Committee. That’s a special title created for Young, and Shuckerow said it means he can participate in any of the subcommittees.

“He certainly looks forward to all the opportunities, and certainly feels like he can be even a more powerful voice for Alaska by being able to serve on all those five subcommittees,” Shuckerow said. “You know, it’s a unique role.”

Shuckerow said the appointment will allow Young to play a lead role in renewing the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the law governing fisheries management. The spokesman said he didn’t know if Young sought a chairmanship this term or whether he would vie for one in the future.

Young became chairman of the Resources Committee in 1995. When term limits forced him to give up that gavel in 2001, he became Transportation chairman for six years. In 2011 he came chairman of Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, a subcommittee of the Resources panel.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at

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