The Trump administration, along with Congress members like Paul Ryan, really want to get some form of Obamacare repeal passed, and passed quickly. The repeal-only bill died when several Republican senators, including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted no on a motion to advance the bill to the full Senate for debate.
And the White House is not happy about that. They are very unhappy about it. Not only did Trump run over to Twitter to say that she “let the Republicans, and our country, down… Too bad!” but both of Alaska’s senators also received calls from Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who proceeded to threaten her entire state over her vote. In essence, he threatened to withhold all kinds of funding from her state as punishment for her vote. According to the Alaska Post-Dispatch:
Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan (who voted “yes” on the motion) said the call from Zinke heralded a “troubling message.”
“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.
Efforts and issues on the line include nominations of Alaskans to Interior posts, an effort to build a road out of King Cove through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, and future opportunities to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and expand drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, among other regulatory issues that are a priority for Murkowski and Sullivan.
This is Trump trying to force members of Congress to bend to his will. It’s a strong arm tactic that’s beneath the Office of the President and patently disgusting to boot. It’s reminiscent of a scene in Full Metal Jacket where Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann begins punishing his entire platoon for one private’s ongoing problems during basic training.
Raul Grijalva, a representative from Arizona, has called for an investigation into Zinke’s threats against Alaska. He’s the top Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources and plans to ask both the Government Accountability Office and the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General’s office to investigate.
Murkowski, for her part, isn’t cowed. She says she promised to work with the new administration on things that matter to Alaskans, and she intends to continue on that path. She doesn’t believe the administration will actually cut off Alaska, but the fact that anyone in the administration threatened her state over her vote remains.
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