Murkowski Fights TSA Fee Hike on Alaska Flyers
Veterans, Coast Guard, Army Sharpshooters, Get Needed Support in Committee
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski secured a number of provisions in the FY2013 Homeland Security and Military Construction/Veterans Affairs appropriations bills that mean a stronger Alaska military commitment to veterans, active duty personnel and the communities that rely on various agencies for their protection. But she had sharp words against a fee increase that would double the TSA security fees for many Alaskans.
During the Senate Appropriations Committee “mark up” session – where committee members vote on bills and amendments – Senator Murkowski pushed back on a provision in the bill proposed by the President that a $2.50/leg security fee be hiked to a flat rate of $5 for every trip. She voted for an amendment to maintain the status quo, as a way of avoiding a hike for the many Alaskans who rely on air travel.
“The cost of flying is not easy,” said Murkowski. “I look at this from the perspective of ‘Will this be increasing the cost of air travel to a constituency that has no other choice… Anything that we’re doing that is going to increase the cost of travel in a region where it is already extraordinarily expensive is something I can’t support.”
Listen to the Senator’s remarks by clicking here. (Appropriations mark ups are not televised)
When the Appropriations Committee held a vote on the issue, the amendment failed to succeed (15-15) and the fee will remain in the bill headed to the Senate floor. The bills passed out of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee today and are ready for consideration by the full Senate.
Important Alaskan Items in the Bills:
Doing More for the “Do More With Less” Coast Guard: Senator Murkowski made sure the 10-year process towards new icebreakers continues, while securing funds that will help the United States Coast Guard’s work in Alaska in the near term with:
- $5 million for long overdue repairs to the air station in Cold Bay.
- $1.1 million for improvement to the Sitkinak refueling station.
Improving Veterans Care: There are 77,000 veterans in Alaska, and too often they are sent to Anchorage – or Seattle – for medical care. Senator Murkowski has been committed to making “Care Closer to Home” a reality since she entered the U.S. Senate.
- Today’s bill requires that a study be done determining the exact reasons and difficulties that lead to veterans being sent to the Lower 48 for medical care – with the end goal being that fewer veterans are displaced for care available in Alaska.
- Today’s bill places a November 1st deadline on a VA report detailing progress made in IHS/VA partnerships, including the landmark agreement announced earlier this month.
Military Construction: With thousands of Alaska-based soldiers deployed to forward areas around the world, training facilities are needed to hone soldiers’ shooting capabilities. Modified record fire ranges build and maintain soldiers skills “to identify, engage and defeat” targets in the field. In the FY2013 budget,
- $18.3 million total is allotted for facilities construction in Alaska
- $10.4 million for a Fort Wainwright modified record fire range
- $7.9 million for a modified record fire range at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson