Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at

Congress Likely To Pass Budget

It looks like Congress will finally pass a budget. A two-year spending plan easily cleared a Senate hurdle today, and is headed for final passage tomorrow. Both Alaska senators supported it, but they’re not entirely happy. Download Audio

State May Get 8 Cargo Planes

The state may be taking possession of eight new airplanes. They’re 1980s era cargo planes that the Army doesn’t want anymore. A provision in the Defense Bill now before the U.S. Senate offers them to the governor of Alaska. The catch is, the state has to figure out what to do with them – and how to pay for their upkeep. Download Audio

Presidential Adviser Pete Rouse Maintains Alaska Roots

One of President Obama’s closest advisers is leaving. Pete Rouse has been at Obama’s side since his first days in the Senate and at the White House, serving at times as chief of staff. But Rouse shuns the spotlight, so few people know of his Alaska roots, or the pull he’s had on the 49th state. Download Audio

Big Outside Money Expected For US Senate Race

Outside money is expected to pour into the race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Mark Begich, and the first of it is making a splash across Alaska’s TV sets. Download Audio

FDA To Announce Decision On Genetically Modified Salmon

Alaska’s Congressional delegation is bracing for an FDA decision on genetically modified salmon and Sen. Mark Begich has asked the head of the agency not to exploit the holiday season to release what’s expected to be an unpopular report. Download Audio

Arctic Fibre Reveals Alaska Broadband Plans

In another sign of how climate change is transforming the Arctic, a Toronto-based company is planning to lay a fiber-optic cable through Canada’s Northwest Passage. Download Audio

Federal Budget Deal Might Include Higher Air Travel Taxes

Brace yourselves for higher airline ticket fees, maybe. In Congress, budget negotiators are trying to craft a deal that would keep the government running and avoid automatic spending cuts without raising taxes. But lawmakers say the deal may include higher user fees, among them, a doubling of the security fee air passengers pay - from $2.50 per flight segment to $5. Download Audio

Bills Would Help Communities Deal With Marine Debris

Two bills aimed at helping coastal communities deal with marine debris advanced in Congress on Wednesday. Alaska Congressman Don Young, a co-sponsor, says they would make it easier for local, state and tribal governments to get money to remove rubbish that floats to their shores. Download Audio

Survey Says Alaska Has Poor Business Climate

A survey of oil company managers and executives has given Alaska poor marks for its business climate. The annual report by the Fraser Institute, a conservative Canadian think tank, stacks Alaska up against other states and countries in an effort to develop a “policy perception index.” The respondents weren’t kind to the 49th state. Download Audio

ANWR Campaigns March On, No End in Sight

Congress is so stuck in partisan mire it hardly passes any bills these days. So it would seem unlikely it could pass anything as controversial as opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. Still, two campaigns, Arctic Power and Alaska Wilderness League, remain on the job in Washington, D.C. One has been fighting for 20 years to allow oil development on the coastal plain of the refuge, the other working just as long to ensure that day never comes. Download Audio

Amendment Would Let Military Prosecutors Handle Sexual Assault Reports

The U.S. Senate this week has been debating how the military should handle sexual assault reports from service members. Both Alaska senators have signed on to an amendment that would let military prosecutors, rather than a suspect’s commander, determine which cases to pursue. Senator Lisa Murkowski on Wednesday spoke on the Senate floor about some of the incidents that motivate her. Download Audio

Tlingit Code Talkers Receive Recognition

Navajo code talkers were recognized more than a decade ago for their service in World War II. They used their Native language as a code that the enemy was never able to crack, but until recently, no one knew that Tlingits from Southeast Alaska also served as code talkers. Download Audio

Feds Pay Alaska $19 Million For Oil, Gas Development

The Department of Interior announced Tuesday it paid Alaska $19 million over the previous year for oil and gas development on federal land in the state. Download Audio

Alaska Leaders Attend White House Tribal Nations Conference

Tribal leaders from Alaska and the rest of the country had a chance this week talk with the highest powers in the federal government. Nearly all of President Obama’s cabinet secretaries participated in the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference, as did Obama himself. Download Audio

Washington DC Gets Lesson In Tlingit Culture

It was Tlingit weekend at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. recently. Storytellers, artists and dancers from Alaska and Canada performed in the museum’s massive atrium. The museum, a stone’s throw from the U.S. Capitol, is a branch of the Smithsonian, but it’s unlike the others. Download Audio

Murkowski Says Sequestration Jeopardizing National Defense

The country could face a second round of automatic budget cuts if Congress can’t agree on a spending plan by year’s end. Download Audio

Senate Passes Anti-Discrimination Bill

Gay rights advocates are celebrating a win today in the nation’s capital. The U.S. Senate has passed a bill to ban workplace discrimination against gay and transgender people. Both Alaska senators voted for it. But, the bill is unlikely to become law. Download Audio

Measure To Combat Sexual Assault Would Limit Military Commanders’ Power

A group of U.S. senators, including Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, is pressing to strip military commanders of the authority to decide how to handle accusations of rape within their units. Download Audio

Murkowski Questions Head Of

The Obama Administration claims it has fixed some of the problems with the new online federal health insurance marketplace, but so far Alaskans remain mostly shut out. Senator Lisa Murkowski had a chance to grill the top official in charge of the website at a Senate hearing on Tuesday, and she used it to air some of her frustrations. Download Audio

Murkowski Misses Vote On Anti-Discrimination Bill

Monday night, the U.S. Senate voted to move ahead with a bill to protect gay people from workplace discrimination. Download Audio