When it comes to the recent health care vote in the Senate, there were two Republican Senators who voted ‘no’ to considering the Republican version of a Health Care bill. The vote, which was supported by the other 48 Republican Senators, was approved after Vice President Mike Pence cast a vote to break a 50-50 tie. Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were the only two Republicans to oppose moving forward with discussion of the bill.
President Trump took to Twitter in order to attack Murkowski for her vote. In doing so, he tweeted the following:
“Senator @lisamurkowski of the Great State of Alaska really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday. Too bad!”
If that isn’t in and of itself seen as a method of intimidation, what proceeded certainly is. President Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke called both Murkowski and Alaska’s other Senator, Dan Sullivan, in order to let the two individuals know how disturbed the President is over the Murkowski ‘no’ vote.
According to the Alaska Dispatch News, Sullivan said the call from Zinke was a “troubling message.” The message apparently was directed at both Alaskan Senators and reiterated that Murkowski’s ‘no’ vote had put Alaska’s future with the Trump administration in jeopardy.
“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,” Senator Dan Sullivan explained. “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.”
It appears as though politics under President Donald Trump has reached a point where Senators and Congressmen within the Republican party are expected to toe the line provided by Trump, whether or not they believe it is best for their constituents. The days of jumping over party lines to support those constituents in one’s own state appears to be a thing of the past — at least with Trump as president.
“I base my votes on what I believe is in Alaska’s best interest,” Murkowski said. “So I know that there are those who wish that I would be more in line with following the party platform, but I don’t think it should come as any surprise that there have been occasions that I have not followed the lead of the party.”
It will be interesting to see if the Trump administration really does try and punish the state of Alaska for a Senator simply doing what she thinks is best for her state. It will also be interesting to see if there is any backlash from fellow Republicans over these apparent threats.