Alaska’s Senior Senator Gets $32.5 Million for Polar Icebreaker Program
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, will have a greater supervisory role over the United States Coast Guard as a result of moving onto the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee.
With the recent party switch of U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Murkowski rotated off the Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee and onto Homeland Security which, in addition to the Coast Guard, also oversees the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Transportation Security Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Secret Service, among a number of other agencies.
“I am gratified to be moving onto the Homeland Security Subcommittee, which has budget oversight over the Coast Guard, an agency that plays a vital role in Alaska,” Murkowski said. “Whether they are rescuing fishermen from a sunken vessel in the Bering Sea, maintaining navigational aids on the inside passage, patrolling the international dateline or flying to the North Pole under the Arctic domain awareness program, the Coast Guard stands vigilant in keeping Alaskans safe and secure in one of the toughest maritime environments on earth.”
Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee today approved the Homeland Security Subcommittee’s $44.3 billion Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations bill that includes $32.5 million requested by Murkowski for the polar icebreaker program.
The funding would go to finish the reactivation of the POLAR STAR, which is coming out of caretaker status, and directs the Coast Guard to begin survey and design and conduct a business case analysis for either a new heavy polar icebreaker class or major service life extension for existing heavy icebreakers. Right now the only working heavy icebreaker, the POLAR SEA, has 7 years remaining on its service life.
The Coast Guard has a large presence in Alaska with more than 2,000 active personnel in over 20 communities, 15 cutters and two air stations. The Coast Guard monitors more than 950,000 square miles of water off the Alaskan coast, enforcing U.S. fisheries law and patrolling an even larger area of the North Pacific to stop illegal, large scale, high seas drift netting.
“I look forward to supporting the Coast Guard and helping them maintain and improve their capability and readiness to meet their national missions of safety, security and stewardship,” Murkowski said.
Alaska’s senior senator also serves on four other Senate Appropriations Subcommittees -- Interior, Environment and Related Agencies; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies; and Legislative Branch, serving as the ranking Republican on that panel.