Alaska’s only U.S. representative will have a crucial position in negotiating the final outcome of the GOP’s successful bid to reform America’s tax code, which includes provisions specifically affecting Alaska.

Rep. Don Young will serve on the conference committee reconciling Republican tax bills passed by the House and last week by the Senate. The bills call for sweeping reductions in many of the nation’s tax rates, but a last-minute addition to the Senate version permits oil drilling in the 1002 region of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The bill also includes tax benefits for Alaska Native corporations, as well as the removal of a potential cruise-industry tax increase.

Murkowski took to Twitter to hail Young’s new role in defending that provision, which she added to the Senate bill ahead of her crucial vote in its 51-49 passage late Friday.

In a statement, Young called the news – which brings drilling in ANWR to its most politically viable point in decades – the result of a “team effort,” thanking House Speaker Paul Ryan for naming him to the committee and Murkowski for her efforts to get drilling through the Senate.

“Now that we head to a conference committee – the group responsible for negotiating a pathway to the president's desk – I will do everything in my power to ensure this important moment to unlock ANWR's energy resources does not pass us by,” Young said. “It's been over 40 years since this battle began – a generation's long battle that is finally coming to a head.”

Young, the House’s longest-serving Republican in office since 1973, was also in the news Tuesday as he became dean of the House – the chamber’s longest-serving member overall. That distinction was prompted by the Tuesday retirement of embattled Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) after more than half a century of service, following allegations of sexual harassment by a former female member of his staff and two other women.

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