Rep. Young apologizes for his ‘offending words’ on House floor


Alaska Congressman Don Young reverted to form Thursday night. He spoke somewhat harshly of another lawmaker on the floor of the U.S. House. Judged against his past statements, it was nothing spectacular. But then Young did something unusual: He made nice.

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The incident happened during a late-night session on a big spending bill. Young was pressing for an amendment to ditch an Obama administration rule that bans certain methods of killing predators on lands managed by the National Park Service.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., argued for keeping the rule. It’s not the first time the House has had this debate, and Jayapal’s defense did not break new ground. She said the Park Service has a mission to protect wildlife.

“In 1994, Alaska did pass a law that undercut those efforts by allowing for extreme predator control, which led to fringe practices that could hardly be called traditional hunting,” Jayapal, a freshman representative, said.

Something she said got under Young’s skin.

“I rarely do this but I’m deeply disappointed in my good lady from Washington,” Young began. “Doesn’t know a damn thing what she’s talking about.”

Young said her statement might’ve come from the Humane Society. He called her “young lady.”

Rep. Jayapal objected. She accused him of impugning her motives. That would be a violation of House rules. Sorting it out might’ve held up proceedings, and it was going to be a long night anyhow.

A staff member from House Speaker’s office went to talk to Young, playing peacemaker. Democrats huddled with Jayapal.

The peacemaker left Young, crossed the chamber to talk to the Democrats.

“I totally get that, and I’m trying to manage this,” he can be heard saying.
“He’s also … he’s also … Don Young.”

After a few minutes, Young crossed the aisle, too, then returned to the Republican side of the room.

“I ask unanimous consent to withdraw my offending words,” Young said. “And to the lady: I do apologize. I get very defensive about my state.”

In the end, Young’s amendment passed, 215-196. The bill is likely to clear the House next week.


Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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