Murkowski makes quick trip home

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 19:00
Senators meet to discuss potential rule change
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski smiles as she competes in the Slippery Salmon Olympics on Saturday, July 13.

After enjoying a day of fun and sun at the Bear Paw Festival on Saturday, July 13, Sen. Lisa Murkowski took a redeye to Washington, D.C., the following day to attend a meeting with all of her fellow U.S. senators.

Senators held a closed-door meeting Monday, July 15 to discuss Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s threat to change the rules on using the filibuster.

It was just the second time in her decade in the Senate that all 100 senators were scheduled to meet privately, Murkowski said on a hot Saturday afternoon prior to competing in the Slippery Salmon Olympics.

Reid (D-Nevada) has said he plans to use the “nuclear option,” which allows him to amend Senate rules with 51 votes instead of 67.

Democrats control the Senate 54-46.

If Republicans don’t confirm President Barack Obama’s executive branch nominations, Reid has told national media outlets he’ll seek to change the rules. Reid said he would only amend the rules related to executive branch nominations — not legislation or judicial branch nominations.

Fortunately, both sides reached a tentative agreement Tuesday, July 16 when Republicans confirmed several of Obama’s nominees and Democrats agreed not to change the current filibuster rules.

The issue has sparked heated debates from both sides of the isle, Murkowski said.

“It’s pretty contentious,” she said. “There’s a lot of bad blood.”

It’s also inhibiting the Senate’s ability to govern, Murkowski said.

“Right now, things have slowed to a crawl,” she said.

Though Reid and the Democrats could circumvent the two-thirds majority typically needed to amend Senate rules in the future, using the “nuclear option” would set a bad precedent, Murkowski said.

“It doesn’t make sense to break the rules to change the rules,” she said.

Senators need to forget about their party affiliation, Murkowski said, and evaluate the issue in terms of what’s best for the institution.

Murkowski said attending events like Bear Paw gives her a chance to speak with her constituents.

“It’s a great opportunity to meet with folks,” she said.

Sun-filled days and 70-degree temperatures was the cheery topping to Murkowski’s three-day trip to Alaska.

“It’s all worth it,” she said. “Particularly when you have weather like this.”

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