Report: Interior Chief Warns Alaska Senators on Health Care - NBC Bay Area
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Report: Interior Chief Warns Alaska Senators on Health Care

The Interior Department and the White House had no comment on the report

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Report: Interior Chief Warns Alaska Senators on Health Care
    Getty Images
    In this June 23, 2010 file photo, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) attends hearing in Washington, DC. (Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)

    Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke called Alaska's two Republican senators to warn them of repercussions for the nation's largest state if they failed to toe the Trump administration line on health care, according to a published report.

    The Alaska Dispatch News reported Thursday that Zinke called Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and complained that Murkowski's vote against proceeding on legislation to repeal "Obamacare" had put Alaska's future with the administration in jeopardy. Vice President Mike Pence broke a 50-50 tie to advance the measure earlier this week.

    Sullivan told the newspaper that the call from Zinke heralded a "troubling message." Questioned by reporters on Thursday, Sullivan declined to discuss his conversations with administration officials.

    Murkowski confirmed that she received a call from Zinke, but said she did not perceive the call as a threat against her or Alaska.

    Trump Awards Medal of Honor to Army Medic From Vietnam War

    [NATL] Trump Awards Medal of Honor to Army Medic From Vietnam War

    President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Honor to retired army medic Gary M. Rose. The Alabama native saved multiple lives while risking his own during the Vietnam War.

    (Published Monday, Oct. 23, 2017)

    "He was just sharing the concern that the president expressed to him to pass on to me," Murkowski said Thursday. She and Zinke, a former Montana congressman, have a "cordial, respectful and friendly relationship," Murkowski added. "I don't think that will change one bit."

    The Interior Department and the White House had no comment on the report.

    The notion of a Cabinet official warning senators of retribution over health care is highly unusual, even as Trump has lashed out at GOP members of Congress for balking at his policies. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted at Murkowski: "Senator @lisamurkowski of the Great State of Alaska really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday. Too bad!"

    Questions Remain for Trump Administration on Niger Mission

    [NATL] Questions Remain for Trump Administration on Niger Mission

    In Washington, there is a search for answers about the ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. Service members.

    (Published Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017)

    Murkowski, who was re-elected to a new six-year term last year, chairs the powerful Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which has say over Interior business and nominations. She also leads an Appropriations subcommittee with authority over the Interior Department budget. On Thursday, an energy committee hearing on nominations was postponed, with a spokeswoman citing "scheduling uncertainties."

    Alaska has a range of issues affected by the federal government, including proposals to build a road through a remote wildlife refuge and drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Several Alaskans also have been nominated for key posts at Interior, and Murkowski and Sullivan have pushed to expand drilling on federal land in Alaska's North Slope near the Arctic Ocean.

    Sullivan told the newspaper: "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."

    WH Continues Feud With Rep in Fallen Soldier Controversy

    [NATL] 'Empty Barrel': White House Continues Feud With Rep in Fallen Soldier Controversy

    The Trump administration's feud with Rep. Frederica Wilson continues for the third day, with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubling down on chief of staff John Kelly's "empty barrel" critique during a Friday press conference. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, slammed Wilson in a late night tweet on Thursday, calling her "wacky." 

    (Published Friday, Oct. 20, 2017)

    "I tried to push back on behalf of all Alaskans. We're facing some difficult times and there's a lot of enthusiasm for the policies that Secretary Zinke and the president have been talking about with regard to our economy. But the message was pretty clear," Sullivan said.

    Sullivan told reporters on Thursday that resource development is critical for his state, which he said is in recession.

    "From my perspective, the sooner we can get back to cooperation between the administration and the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the better," he said, referring to Murkowski.

    Senate Passes Budget Quietly as Attention Focuses on Trump

    [NATL] Senate Quietly Passes Budget as All Attention Focused on Trump and Kelly

    The Senate cleared the way to President Donald Trump's tax plan when a $4 trillion budget plan was narrowly pushed through by GOP lawmakers Thursday - this, as attention was focused on Trump and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly's public argument with Rep. Frederica Wilson over the president's alleged mistreatment of a Gold Star widow.

    (Published Friday, Oct. 20, 2017)

    Murkowski, who talked to Trump before her vote on Tuesday, said she has no problem with the administration's efforts to persuade her on the health care bill.

    "The president wants to get a health care bill. He's going to make calls. That's understood. ... That's kind of his job. I don't have a hardship with that. I don't have heartburn with that at all," she said, adding that she made her position clear to Trump when they talked before the initial vote on Tuesday.

    "He was very direct, in terms of encouraging me to vote to proceed," Murkowski said of Trump. "It was a difficult conversation."

    Kelly 'Stunned' by Rep.'s Criticism of Trump's Call to Widow

    [NATL] John Kelly 'Stunned' by Congresswoman's Criticism of Trump's Call to Fallen Soldier's Family

    White House chief of staff John Kelly said Thursday he was "stunned" and "broken hearted" by a Florida congresswoman woman's criticism of President Donald Trump's phone call to one of the families of Americans killed in Niger nearly two weeks ago.

    (Published Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017)

    In the end, she decided to vote against moving forward, saying the bill was not ready and would make unacceptable cuts to Medicaid.

    Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said any threat against Murkowski was a mistake.

    "Always. Tomorrow's another day," Shelby said. "We vote thousands of times ... I'd never threaten anybody because they didn't vote with me on some issue because tomorrow, we might have another issue."

    Obama Returns to the Campaign Trail

    [NATL] Obama Returns to the Campaign Trail

    Former President Barack Obama returned to the political spotlight Thursday for the first time since leaving office by campaigning for the Democratic nominees for Governor in New Jersey and Virginia.

    (Published Friday, Oct. 20, 2017)

    Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Alan Fram contributed to this report.