Senator Murkowski is considered the leading expert in Congress on Arctic policy and polar affairs. Throughout her years in the Senate, Murkowski has continuously worked in a bipartisan nature to raise awareness amongst her colleagues on Capitol Hill and across the U.S. that— because of Alaska—qualifies as an Arctic nation, and consequently gives the nation a seat at the table for Arctic policy negotiations on the global stage. As a fierce advocate for the Arctic region and the people who live there, Senator Murkowski has represented the U.S. and its Arctic policy agenda alongside cabinet members at international forums such as the Conference of Arctic Parliamentarians and Arctic Council ministerial meetings.
The Senator has strived to educate Congress and the public about the importance of the Arctic region to the United States. In April 2015, Senator Murkowski and Senator Angus King of Maine joined forces to establish the Senate Arctic Caucus. The Arctic Caucus is the first entity in Congress to bring attention to the laws and policies at stake in the Far North. The purpose of the Caucus is to convene members of Congress, subject matter experts, federal agency heads, and the public to confront policy questions and advance a coordinated investment in arenas such as national security, scientific research, commerce, global trade, the environment, maritime affairs, and other relevant issues impacting the Arctic region.
As new challenges and opportunities emerge due to the changing climate and diminishing sea ice, Senator Murkowski’s efforts reflect the U.S. imperative to position itself as an Arctic nation and global leader to maximize U.S. presence and priorities in the north. With non-Arctic nations like Italy, India, and China beginning to engage and invest in the Arctic region, Senator Murkowski continues to push the U.S. to assert strong leadership and implement clear and direct policies to protect U.S. interests in the Arctic region, and the American people who live and subsist above 66.5°.
Senator Murkowski has led the charge to recapitalize and expand America’s fleet of icebreakers. In May 2016, Murkowski secured a win in this decades-long fight when the Senate Defense Appropriations allocated $1 billion to fully fund the construction of the first U.S. polar icebreaker in 25 years. Currently, the United States has two polar icebreakers, while Russia has 11 of comparable capability. Modernizing our nation’s icebreaker fleet, something Senator Murkowski has advocated for since her first days in the Senate, would ensure that our nation has the assets needed to assert our influence in the Arctic region and be prepared to respond to any emergencies.