Alaska delegation splits on US budget bill

Congress has finished its work for the year with a $1.8 trillion spending bill, which president Obama quickly signed. The package drew a mixed response from Alaska’s delegation.

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Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted for it. She lauded its support for programs important to Alaska, in Veterans Affairs, Defense, and social services. The bill also contributes $7 million toward the billion-dollar effort to build a new icebreaker. Murkowski said in a recorded press announcement the bill isn’t as expensive as it could have been.

“It does represent the lowest level of discretionary government spending as a percentage of GDP that we’ve seen in at least a decade.”

Sen. Dan Sullivan voted against the package. He said, in a written press release it was a tough vote for him because the bill includes many Alaska priorities he fought for. But he objects to the process. The bills were negotiated among a few congressional leaders and the White House. Sullivan says he had only 72 hours to read 2,200 pages and couldn’t in good conscience vote for it.

Alaska Congressman Don Young, in a recorded statement, said the bill wasn’t great but better than nothing.

“I could have voted no. I voted yes. Because I knew the last time we closed the government down it’s a bad thing for the nation. It cost us money over the long run.”

Young says the package should have been built through the normal congressional process. On the other hand, he says, it has important reforms and Alaska provisions that wouldn’t otherwise become law.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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