Murkowski Votes in Favor of H.R. 1 In an Effort to End Budget Stalemate

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – U. S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today voted in favor of a measure that would fund the government through the end of Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11), which includes $57 Billion in cuts from last year’s budget.

“I voted for H.R. 1 because it was an important and necessary step to reach our ultimate goal of passing a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year,” Murkowski said. “The package is clearly not the bill I would have written, but I felt it was essential to send a strong signal that Congress must get serious about cutting spending.  We cannot solve our fiscal problems solely on the spending side of the ledger.  By expeditiously concluding work on this year’s budget, we will be in a position to address comprehensive fiscal reform that includes not only spending but also the primary cost drivers – entitlement spending.

Cutting discretionary spending is needed, but we cannot tackle this economic crisis without also addressing the biggest fiscal issues: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and the President needs to lead us in this effort.  I call on President Obama to demonstrate fiscal restraint; he must be at the head of the table with concrete proposals if we have any hope of enacting desperately needed comprehensive fiscal reforms.

Notwithstanding my vote for H.R. 1, I am a vocal supporter of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, the Strengthening Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions Program, and the Weatherization Assistance Program among others that are cut by H.R. 1. I believe Planned Parenthood provides vital services to those in need and disagree with their funding cuts contained in the bill.

To voice my concern for these programs, I’ve sent a letter to the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Committee concerning programs that I feel received unnecessarily severe cuts, with a disproportionate impact on Alaska. As the process moves forward to fund the federal government while reducing spending, I hope to work with them in my capacity on the Senate Appropriations Committee to ensure that these vital programs continue to be effective.”

Additional language in H.R. 1 with positive impacts for Alaska includes stripping the Environmental Appeals Board of its ability to reject Arctic air permits this year, which is of particular importance to future exploration in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

Also included in H.R. 1 are measures that block the EPA from implementing regulations limiting greenhouse gases, as well as language that will withhold funding from the Obama Administration’s health care law.

Attached is a copy of the letter to the Senate Appropriations Chairman Sen. Inouye, D-Hawaii and Ranking Member Sen. Cochran, R-Mississippi.