Less than a week after bringing Defense Secretary James Mattis to Alaska, Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan brought another guest home. It’s fellow Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho.

Risch chairs the Senate’s Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and held a field hearing at the Loussac Library on Friday. Panelists discussed opportunities for federal programming.

Sullivan said it’s vital that the state’s Congressional delegation bring colleagues and members of Trump’s administration to Alaska for a first-hand look at the state’s challenges and special features they believe can help the rest of the country.

“One of my jobs is to get senior leaders in the Congress and the executive branch to Alaska,” he said.  “We have so many challenges and opportunities that are unique.

“This hearing is all about helping small business. To have the chair of the small business committee here, it’s a big deal.”

Labor Secretary James Acosta will join also join Sullivan and Sen. Lisa Murkowski for visits in Anchorage and Fairbanks.

Sullivan’s return also comes less than a day after the Senate unanimously backed Tara Sweeney’s nomination to head the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Sweeney’s nomination met some resistance for being an executive with an Alaska Native corporation.

Sullivan said holding up her nomination was unnecessary, especially as the end vote was unanimous.

“All 100 senators essentially saying she is the person who can do this job,” Sullivan said. “It’s a huge vote of confidence from Democrats and Republicans.

“I think she is going to do a great job, not just for Alaska communities but for the entire Lower 48. There are big challenges we all know on reservations in the Lower 48 dealing with economic challenges, high unemployment and high crime rates. We have similar challenges in our Native communities. She knows those very well.”

Sullivan will also meet with Bristol Bay seafood executives who are worrying about the pending tariffs the Chinese government pledges to place on Alaska seafood exports.

Sullivan says he has been meeting regularly with President Trump and his administration on the prospective tariffs.

“Specifically, I did raise the issue with him of the retaliation the Chinese are threatening with regard to seafood exports,” he said. “We export billions. We are an export powerhouse from our state.

"I’m concerned about that. The President, Secretary Ross told me, look we are trying to open markets for Alaska seafood. We don’t want these closed down.”

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