- Associated Press - Friday, December 2, 2016

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - U.S. Rep. Don Young said there are similarities between the election of Donald Trump and the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, which he said came during a period of “malaise” when people lacked hope and wanted change.

Young, 83, is the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. House. Trump would be the ninth president Young has served alongside.

Young distanced himself from Trump during the campaign and acknowledged he was surprised by Trump’s victory, as he was with Reagan’s. But Young said he doesn’t share the fears that others have about a Trump presidency.

In a phone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, Young said he sees an opportunity for Republicans to advance their agenda and address issues such as health care and burdensome regulations.

He also doesn’t see Republicans merely rubber stamping Trump’s ideas.

“We have good ideas, we have good thoughts and we ought to pass the bills and let him make the decision” on whether to veto them or not, Young said.

The outspoken congressman, who recently won re-election to a 23rd term, said he won’t have a problem speaking out if the incoming president, a fellow Republican, proposes or does something he disagrees with. “I’ve never had that problem,” he said.

He said Democrats sometimes sided with President Barack Obama on issues just because he was a fellow Democrat.

“If the president is wrong, this is the Congress. This is the house of the people,” Young said. “And we ought to be able to be in the position, regardless of who the president is, and say, ‘This is the wrong way to go,’ and, like I say, not pass his bill rubber stamp.”

Young said he is optimistic about the coming congressional term but said it will be important to begin working immediately on issues like energy, health care and regulations since 2018 is another election year “and nobody does anything” in an election year.

Young said he would like to repeal Obama’s signature health care law but thinks the chances of repeal are slim. Instead of fighting over repealing the law, lawmakers should focus on parts that aren’t working and fix those, he said.

Trump’s nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be the next attorney general has caused concern among marijuana advocates. Sessions has called marijuana a danger. Alaska is among the states that has legalized recreational use of marijuana.

Young said he’s never smoked weed but supports states’ rights.

The state voted on it, “and the federal government should stay out of it,” he said. “And those people that criticized me and said, ‘Well, you’re supporting drugs.’ I am not. I’m supporting states’ rights.”

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Follow Becky Bohrer at https://twitter.com/beckybohrerap.

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