Report: Interior secretary called Alaska’s senators to threaten them over health care vote

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke threatened both of Alaska’s senators on Wednesday over the way they both have voted on health care, reports Alaska Dispatch News.

After President Trump blasted Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, for opposing a motion to proceed to open the health care debate, Zinke called her and her colleague Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, saying that Murkowski’s “no” vote on Tuesday put Alaska’s relationship with the Trump administration in jeopardy, the report said.

Some issues and pending legislation items that both senators care about could now be at risk, the report, said, suggest as nominations of Alaskans to positions in the administration, drilling projects in Alaska and an effort to build a road through a wildlife refuge.

“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 told the newspaper about the threat from Zinke, who delivered what the senator called a “troubling message.”

“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 added, according to the report.

If Zinke were to follow through on a threat to stop Alaskan drilling projects, it would contradict the boost he attempted to give the oil and natural gas industry a couple of months ago. In May, he declared, “The only path for energy dominance is a path through the great state of Alaska.” And he signed an order encouraging more production in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and calling for an update of current assessments of oil and natural gas resources in Alaska’s North Slope. 

The report said that Murkowski was not available for comment.

Murkowski and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, were the only two Senate Republicans who opposed a motion to proceed to open debate on the House-passed heath care bill on Tuesday. Sullivan voted in favor of the motion. 

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Source: CBS News – Health

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