Sen. Murkowski, so far so good as recess nears end

What others say

Posted: Monday, August 22, 2005

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, eight months into her own term, appears to have easily moved beyond her contentious election and now seems to be growing increasingly comfortable in her job.

The Republican senator, in an hour long discussion with the News-Miner editorial board Aug. 10, spoke on a variety of topics, some of which await Congress when members return to Washington from their August recess. In that discussion, it became apparent that Alaska’s junior senator has acquired a good bit of knowledge on domestic and international affairs and that she is quite willing to use it to, in some instances, form views that differ from those of President Bush and the leadership of her own party in the Senate.

On the energy bill, signed (Aug. 8) by President Bush, she said she supported a provision in the Senate’s version to require the president to reduce U.S. oil demand by 1 million barrels a year by 2015. The savings in that provision, which was removed in negotiations with the House, would be the equivalent of increasing the average fuel performance to 39 miles per gallon, which the senator’s office said later could be achieved without increased federal mileage standards but with proper tire inflation or reducing the speed limit. ...

On increased mileage standards for automobile manufacturers ... she did appear open to pressuring the automakers. ... The senator, who is a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, expressed a dislike for mandatory increases in mileage standards but said the auto industry so far has not chosen to make improvements. ‘‘The auto industry has not been responsive. If they can’t be, then maybe something should be done.’’

On the president’s recess appointment of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, she said, ‘‘I have a tough time with recess appointments.’’ The senator did not give enthusiastic support to Mr. Bolton when his nomination was in being heard by the Foreign Relations Committee, of which she is a member. The president gave Mr. Bolton a temporary appointment when the Senate adjourned for its present recess. ...

On the Patriot Act, she sees a major battle between the Senate and the House, whose version of the bill is supported by the president. The Senate version, which she supported ... provides avenues for citizens to challenge a government decision to seize or review items or records and makes greater demands on the government to show why it needs those items or records. It also reins in the act’s surveillance provisions.

The senator, in her visit at the newspaper and with none of her Washington staff present, spoke in an informed way on many other topics — the Chinese economy, the national highway bill, the prospects for opening ANWR via the budget process, the base closing process among them. That, and she fit the newspaper interview into her schedule on short notice.

Alaskans like people who work hard and can display an independence of mind. Sen. Lisa Murkowski so far appears to be delivering on both of those.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Aug. 14, 2005

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