Senator Murkowski's E-newsletter for the week of December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Alaska!

I hope you are surrounded by friends, family and loved ones this holiday season, preparing for a happy and healthy 2013.  I invite you to watch my holiday message to all Alaskans.

(Click image to watch video message)

As daylight wanes and snow falls, I’m reminded of the many Holiday traditions that we Alaskans share during this wonderful time of year. From harvesting your own Christmas tree to ice skating on a nearby lake, we are all so very lucky to live in this winter wonderland.

As Alaskan families gather to celebrate this joyous time of year, we must be thoughtful of the service men and women who are not here with their loved ones this holiday season. May you keep them and their families in your prayers as they stand ever vigilant to serve our country fearlessly, watch over us and keep us warm in the comfort of their safety.

This Christmas season let’s not forget our Alaskan spirit, that one-of-a-kind generosity that we have for one another.  I hope you will use this special time of year to celebrate all that is good in Alaska; to count your blessings, to focus on family, friends, good health and making new traditions.

From my family, to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy, Happy New Year.

Annual Holiday Luncheon

The second annual Holiday Luncheon at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage last Friday was a big success.  I was proud to carry on the luncheon tradition started by Ann Stevens in the 1970s and established as an annual event by Senator Ted Stevens in 1982.  This year’s “card and can” event benefitted the Covenant House Alaska, the Armed Services YMCA Food Bank and the Red Cross of Alaska’s Holiday Mail for Heroes program.

I’d like to say a big ‘Thank You’ to the hundreds of Alaskans who took time out of their busy holiday seasons to attend and donate food to the food bank, gift cards for the kids and greetings for our troops spending the holidays serving our country.

Hundreds gathered at the Annual Holiday Luncheon featuring Lisa Murkowski

Senator Murkowski signs cards for the Red Cross of Alaska’s Holiday Mail for Heroes program.  The Senator’s staff also sent cards to deployed service men and women.

Senator Murkowski with the South Anchorage High School JROTC Color Guard and their mascot “Wendell” at the Holiday Luncheon.

Holiday Traditions

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the smell of Christmas cookies in the oven.  From my family to yours, here is my go-to cookie recipe from my grandmother.  Enjoy our little taste of Christmas!

Spritz Cookies

Spritz cookies are one of my holiday favorites. This recipe comes from my grandmother Helen Murkowski’s well-loved wooden recipe box, which has been passed down in our family for 85 years. Enjoy our taste of Christmas!

  • 1c. (1/2lb.) softened butter
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 2 ½ c. flour

Combine butter and sugar in mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and vanilla and stir until blended. Gradually add flour. If the dough is soft and sticky, refrigerate until it is firm. Place dough in a Spitz cookie press fitted with a design plate, packing it in firmly and evenly. Force out onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing cooking about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with colored sugars. Bake at 350 degrees 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Store airtight. Makes about 4 dozen.

Constituent Coffee

Earlier this month I caught up with Alaskans here in D.C. for the White House Tribal Nations Summit at a coffee with constituents. It was a great opportunity to talk with people from home and stay connected on the issues Alaskans are dealing with.  Alaskan visits to Washington, D.C. are extremely valuable when trying to educate federal officials about the unique difficulties we face.

Senator Murkowski with Chanda Aloysiuis at a Constituent Coffee hosted for Alaskans attending the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference.

Senator Murkowski speaks with Kimberly Strong about her recent visit to the White House Tribal Nations Conference.

"Fiscal Cliff"

Many people have written, e-mailed, and called to express their profound concerns the “fiscal cliff,” which at this moment is the most critical issue facing our nation. The fiscal cliff is how people are describing the tax increases and across-the-board federal program cuts that are set to start in 2013. I am deeply concerned that if a resolution to avoid the fiscal cliff is not successful, the impacts on Alaska may be irreversible for many years to come. 

Going over the fiscal cliff is not an acceptable solution to our current economic situation, and quite frankly, it would be economically irresponsible. I hope that Congress and the President can find solutions to these tough economic questions in the coming days. It is important to note that fiscal cliff negotiations are ongoing and the provisions of a potential deal are evolving on nearly a daily basis. Congress must be willing to show the country and the world that we are serious about sacrifice, compromise, and fiscal certainty.

Please take a moment to view my statements regarding our current economic situation, the potential impact to our state’s economy, and possible tax increases for almost every Alaskan.

(Click the image above to watch my speech)

Veteran Spotlight on Nichole Tovar

I am proud to release the 7th installment of my Veteran Spotlight, a collaboration with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project to preserve the personal accounts of American War Veterans. This is a wonderful opportunity to listen and learn from the men and women who have fought for the freedoms we hold dear.

December’s edition features Nichole Tovar, a U.S. Army veteran who worked as a nurse in Iraq and continues to serve today in the U.S. Army Reserves. Nichole was kind enough to sit down with my staff to reflect on her experiences as an 18-year-old high school senior enlisting in the Army, an Army nurse in Baghdad’s Green Zone and meeting her husband – the future father of her two beautiful daughters.

(Click image for excerpt - CLICK HERE for longer interview)

Senate Passes Coast Guard Reauthorization

This month I was pleased to see the passage of the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act, a bill that funds operations for mission readiness, vessels, aircrafts and other operational needs through the next fiscal year. This bill accomplishes many of the goals I have worked on with my colleagues in Congress, and addresses some of the difficulties we face in our state due to our unique geography.

Included in the bill is a provision to cut red tape faced by many of Alaska’s maritime workers. I recently met with various leaders within the Department of Homeland Security to urge that they streamline the process for workers to renew their Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), a security badge required to access secure of ports facilities. The Department is working to implement the bill’s requirements, so that the time-consuming and expensive two-trip ordeal will be cut to a one-stop process.

Additionally, I advocated for a provision to exempt thousands of Alaskan commercial vessels from a burdensome, one-size-fits-all permitting process required by the EPA, and encouraged the Coast Guard to look into the feasibility of a deep-water Arctic port in Alaska. As our northern waters open and Arctic exploration increases, it is critical that as an Arctic nation address the region’s needs.

Senator Murkowski meets with the crew of the HC-130H Hercules for Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak.

Women Making History in the U.S. Senate:

The women Senators of the 113th Congress sat down with ABC’s Diane Sawyer earlier this month to discuss the future of our nation, our role as policy makers, and our thoughts on a record-high 20 women serving in the Senate next year.

Below is a preview snippet of the ABC News story, which will air on January 3, 2013.

(CLICK HERE to watch a clip of the interview)

2013 Service Academy Nominations

On Wednesday, I proudly announced the names of 33 Alaska high school seniors I am nominating for appointment to the U.S. military service academies for the class of 2017.

This group of highly motivated men and women embody the strength of character and depth of knowledge we expect to see in both our armed forces and in our communities. I am honored to nominate such accomplished Alaskans to our service academies.  These young adults are the reason Alaska’s future is so bright.

I nominated these young men and women based on their academic record, extracurricular activities and leadership capacity. They will now compete against other candidates nationwide for a spot in the entering class. While a nomination is an accomplishment itself, it does not guarantee admission.  The service academies make the final decisions.

My 2013 Service Academy nominees and their hometowns are:

U.S. Air Force Academy - Colorado Springs, Colorado:

Joel Ackerman, Copper Center*        

Brandon Cameron, Anchorage

Brendan Flynn, Juneau*                    

Kyle Phillips, Juneau*

Mikayla Scarboro, North Pole           

Coleman Smith, Palmer

Hannah Sponseller, North Pole          

Ethan Stobbe, Kodiak*

Joshua Sy, Anchorage                        

Timothy Thornley, Anchorage

U.S. Military Academy – West Point, New York:

Thomas Antal, Fairbanks*                 

Andrew Banez, Anchorage

Nathanael Beveridge                         

Duncan Brewer, Kenai*

Samantha Everett, Palmer                  

Sullivan Gilley, Chugiak*

Derick Hanna, Wasilla                       

Luke Heun, Palmer

Jacob Miller, Fairbanks                      

Delainey Stokes, Fairbanks 

U.S. Naval Academy – Annapolis, Maryland:

McKenzie Barnett, Kodiak                

Scott Browning, Anchorage

Kara Butler, Wasilla                           

Susumu Jones, Anchorage

Brandon Kavalok, Palmer                  

Conrad Kress, Anchorage

Joseph Rauenhorst, North Pole          

Mizani Rawhani, Petersburg

Sawyer Rickman, Soldotna               

Jeremy Valero, Salcha

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy – Kings Point, New York:

Joel Ackerman, Copper Center          

Thomas Antal, Fairbanks       

Duncan Brewer, Kenai                      

Tanner Evans, Anchorage

Brendan Flynn, Juneau                      

Sullivan Gilley, Chugiak

Willa Nagel, Palmer                           

Kyle Phillips, Juneau

Ethan Stobbe, Kodiak                       

Thomas White, North Pole 

(* Nominee received more than one service academy nomination)

Working For Alaskans in Washington, D.C.

Senator Murkowski and her staff participated in the “Operation Holiday Miracle” Program to help spread Holiday cheer to men and women in the armed services currently serving oversees.

Recent Visitors

Senator Murkowski visits with students from East Anchorage High School on the Capitol steps during their recent trip to Washington, D.C.

Senator Murkowski meets with Rep. Anna Fairclough, Rep. Dan Saddler, Speaker Mike Chenault, and Rep. Peggy Wilson of the Alaska Legislature during their recent visit to D.C.