Embattled Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) offered his apologies to the Republican Study Committee on Wednesday for caustic remarks he made about the conservative group’s members on the House floor earlier this month.
In a widely reported speech, Young lashed out on July 18 at conservatives — and Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) in particular — after they attempted unsuccessfully to strip funds for Alaska from the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies spending bill.
Young made no efforts at the time to apologize to Garrett or the RSC, and conservatives refused to let the matter go, with some Members complaining to leadership over the incident, and the dust-up continued to be a topic of discussion at last week’s RSC weekly meeting.
Conservatives argued that Young crossed the line of decorum and debate when he made several angry remarks on the floor, which included suggestions that Garrett was not an effective lawmaker for New Jersey and that there would be retribution for their actions. “There’s always another day, when those who bite will be killed, too, and I’m very good at that,” Young declared then.
While the generally quick-tempered Young initially appeared unlikely to apologize after the floor fight, Members and aides in attendance at Wednesday’s RSC meeting said Young appeared hat-in-hand and was sincere in his brief remarks.
“I come to you as a man whose flaws are often greater than his strengths,” Young told the roughly dozen Members in attendance, according to a source present.
Young noted that he has been going through a difficult time as both he and his wife have had health problems recently — Young underwent prostate surgery last week — but he made no mention of the ongoing federal investigation into his relationship with an Alaska oil services company.
Young declined to comment on the investigation at a separate press conference on energy Wednesday. “Not at this time. This is an energy conference, let’s stay with the program,” he said.
Young thanked RSC members for their prayers at the meeting and appeared tearful at the end of his remarks. Garrett was not at the meeting, and Young said he would seek him out separately to offer his apology.
“It was a genuine apology and a sincerely expressed point of view and it was well-received,” said Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.), another embattled lawmaker under federal investigation who defended Young at last week’s RSC meeting as well. Conservatives applauded Young at the end of his remarks.