White House threatens Alaska after Sen. Murkowski vetoes health care bill

Sullivan interpreted Zimke's message as a threat that the federal government might no longer sign off on Alaska legislation that requires its signature.
By Lucas Rowe | Jul 31, 2017
U.S. Interior Secretary telephoned both of Alaska's U.S. senators Wednesday morning and told them that they and their state would face consequences for Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski's vote against a measure to open debate on the Senate GOP's health-care bill. Her colleague, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Al.) told the Alaska Dispatch that he found the message "troubling" and that he argued with the Interior secretary over it.

Sullivan interpreted Zimke's message as a threat that the federal government might no longer sign off on Alaska legislation that requires its signature. An example would be authorization to expand drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve, a crucial component of the state's economy.

"I'm not going to go into the details, but I fear that the strong economic growth, pro-energy, pro-mining, pro-jobs and personnel from Alaska who are part of those policies are going to stop," Sullivan said, adding that he tried to "push back on behalf of all Alaskans."

Murkowski broke with the GOP twice the day before. First she voted against a procedural motion to begin debate on the GOP health-care legislation--she was one of only two Republicans to vote against the measure, which nevertheless passed 51-50.

Later that day, she voted against another key proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare. Murkowski has consistently expressed concerns over the legislation, in part because of its cuts to Medicaid and its expected reductions to the numbers of insured.

Murkowski fired back at the White House rebuke later on Wednesday. She told reporters that "Every day shouldn't be about winning elections.How about just doing a little bit of governing around here. That's what I'm here for."

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