Alaska’s senior U.S. senator visited the state Friday on a wide-ranging trip, addressing topics from federal assistance after the state’s recent 7.0 earthquake to the prospects of a possible government shutdown over a pending appropriations bill.

Lisa Murkowski spoke with reporters at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage. She said federal assistance has been proceeding well ever since rapid action from the executive branch on the day of the Nov. 30 quake.

“We were on the phone with the Secretary of Transportation in D.C. who said, ‘We’ve already freed up the $5 million (in initial transportation funding); it’s on your way,’” Murkowski said.

Six of the government’s seven main appropriations bills have passed Congress, according to Murkowski, but the seventh bill – pertaining to border security – has held up the process.

“We must avoid a shutdown,” Murkowski said. “There is no good reason to have a shutdown of the government.”

Murkowski hopes the six approved bills can be put into effect, with temporary measures taken to fund the disputed programs. Should a shutdown occur, Alaskans will likely see effects on the government’s assistance in repairing damage from the Nov. 30 quake.

 

One priority Murkowski noted in the quake’s aftermath is the importance of accurate disaster assessment. 

“We are still uncovering what some of the damage may be, so rather than putting out an estimate that may be really far off, lowballing it or not quite correct, we want to get it right,” Murkowski said. “We will have to make a case for disaster funding, so we will have to get the damage estimates right.”

After the news conference, Murkowski traveled to Eagle River to view more damage from the temblor – after traveling with Sen. Dan Sullivan in the days after the quake to the Mat-Su Borough’s damaged Vine Road and Houston Middle School.

“I have to tell you I was just – just shocked at what I saw at the school,” Murkowski said. “I worry about those kids that have really been shook up and are still afraid.”

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