Sen. Lisa Murkowski complains of Washington D.C. division in annual address

Sen. Lisa Murkowski gives her annual address to a joint-sitting of the Alaska Legislature....
Sen. Lisa Murkowski gives her annual address to a joint-sitting of the Alaska Legislature. (02/18/2020) (KTUU)
Published: Feb. 18, 2020 at 2:17 PM AKST
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In her annual address to a joint session of the Alaska Legislature, Sen. Lisa Murkowski complained of deep division in Washington D.C. following the conclusion of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

“[I’m] really worn after the darkest, most deeply partisan experience of my career,” Murkowski said before continuing to describe that “the division in Washington is an embarrassing betrayal of what we have become.”

Murkowski voted to acquit the president and did not support bringing witnesses before a Senate impeachment trial.

In an availability with reporters after her address, Murkowski was critical of the president’s actions after the trial, particularly regarding his comments directed toward the Department of Justice on sentencing guidelines for convicted former adviser Roger Stone.

“What the president has done doesn’t assure me that he is staying in his lane, if you will,” she said.

Murkowski would not be drawn into whether she would vote for the president in the upcoming election. “I’m not going to focus on what’s coming up in November,” she said.

Instead, Alaska’s senior Senator said she is focusing on how to improve the state through better public safety outcomes, new renewable energy opportunities and lowering health care costs.

Her loudest applause from the Legislature came in response to a line expressing support of the Alaska Marine Highway System service which has largely ground to a standstill with 10 of 11 ferries out of commission for repairs.

“In Alaska, highways include a marine highway — it’s just as simple as that,” she said.

Murkowski did not offer advice to the Legislature about how to improve the system, saying that was a debate for lawmakers.

On the issue of Division of Motor Vehicle officials getting out to rural Alaska so residents could get REAL IDs, the senator was blunt: “This is going to take state resources to get out to these communities.”

Murkowski also spoke strongly in support of resource development, including getting an exemption to the Roadless Rule in the Tongass National Forest and continuing oil development on the North Slope.

Her sharpest criticisms were left for the state of federal politics.

Murkowski complained of overreach from the executive branch as a reason for why she voted in favor of the Iran War Powers Resolution, a measure intended to limit the president’s powers in launching hostilities in the Middle East.

Murkowski said executive overreach was not unique to the Trump administration and had been present for a number of years.

“Congress must reassert itself as a coequal branch of government,” she said.

Murkowski told reporters that Alaska seemed to not be as divided as the nation itself and that the state could come up with practical solutions to local challenges.

“I hope that we’re better than the example that was set in Washington D.C.,” she said. “I’m counting on Alaska.”

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