Rep. Torres issues statement on heated exchange at hearing

YouTube: Rep Don Young Fires Fake Gun at Rep. Norma Torres May 14 2015

Rep. Norma Torres (D-California) issued a statement today after heated exchange with Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska).

Torres, a new member of Congress and a new member of the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, felt the wrath of the anger-prone Young at a hearing on the land-into-trust process yesterday. Like others, she questioned the way the Republican leadership was approaching the issue.

“I am disappointed in the hostile tone the hearing took, but I find it more disconcerting that instead of focusing on the serious issues affecting Indian Country, this subcommittee is being used as a forum to air inter-tribal grievances," Torres said. "Rather than meddling in these disputes, the subcommittee should be working to promote tribal sovereignty and self-determination throughout Indian Country."

“From an inflammatory hearing memo that seemed to defend some of our nation’s most egregious policies against Native Americans to this very hearing questioning the well-established authority of the Secretary to take land into trust for tribes granted under the Indian Reorganization Act, our Native American communities deserve better," Torres added. "I hope we can move on from this incident, and get on with the work we were sent here to do.”

Indianz.Com SoundCloud: House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Oversight Hearing on Inadequate Standards for Trust Land Acquisition in the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934

The Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee posted video of the exchange that left audience members in shock. At one point, Young raises his hand and makes a finger gun gesture in Torres's direction.

"Are you acting like you're shooting at me?" Torres said during the hearing.

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) serves as chairman of the House Subcommittee Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs. Photo from Facebook

Young has served in Congress for more than 40 years. He is known for dramatic outbursts and for making questionable comments in public.

At a House Natural Resources Committee hearing with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in March, he suggested gray wolves could address homelessness. "If I introduced them in your district, you wouldn’t have a homeless problem anymore,' Alaska's sole member of Congress said.

Last year alone, he issued three public apologies. One was for using an ethnic slur to describe Hispanic workers and another was for forcefully grabbing the arm of a Congressional staffer.

Young also made insensitive comments about the high rate of suicide in Alaska. He offered an apology at the annual convention of the Alaska Federation of Natives in October and revealed that he lost a young family member to suicide.

Despite the repeated mishaps, Young won re-election in November.

Committee Notice:
Oversight Hearing on "Inadequate Standards for Trust Land Acquisition in the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934." (May 14, 2015)

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