U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, wants legislators to stand up for their role as the appropriators — both in Alaska and Washington, D.C.
She said President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration on immigration at the border was worrisome in a press conference after her annual speech to Alaska’s Legislature on Tuesday.
“I don’t like this,” Murkowski said. “I think it takes us down a road, with a precedent that if it’s allowed that we may come to regret. I’ll just remind my colleagues that in the previous administration we raised a lot of commotion over areas and initiatives that we felt the executive had overreached. Whether it’s a Democratic president or a Republican president, I think we need to respect these separation of powers.”
Her main objection with his emergency declaration is that Congress is supposed to appropriate money, and this order would circumvent that process and take money from projects that were previously appropriated. She has concerns that some of the money Trump wants to divert to border security and building a wall at the Mexico border will come from military construction projects in Alaska.
“What we gave the president in (our omnibus bill) is significant in terms of resourcing for the men and women, for the humanitarian aid, and also for 55 miles of new wall,” she said. “The president has gotten as much what this administration can afford.”
She praised the democratic system in place, and said that checks and balances were crucial to maintaining democracy.
“Again, I don’t mean to be critical of President Trump with his (border security) priority,” she said. “I worry about expansion of executive authority by any president on any issue, even if it’s an issue that I am supportive of.”
She pointed out that Congress holds the power to appropriate money, and that the legislative branch should have more power when it comes to budgets than the executive branch. She compared the struggles Congress is facing with the budget to the one the Alaska Legislature also faces.
“I think we need to remember that here in Alaska, we’ve got a Legislature that’s going to be dealing with some very difficult and very challenging issues,” she said. “But I think the Legislature needs to recognize its role and stand up to its role as the appropriators, as the legislative branch.”
When asked about how the state budget affects federal funding, she said she does think that cutting state funding to Medicaid and other programs makes it harder to secure federal funding for those same programs. Gov. Mike Dunleavy has proposed cutting funding to Medicaid, which would result in a loss of matched federal funding, as well.
“The leveraging that we can get from federal dollars has been significant for our state,” she said. “So as you consider these decisions as to where to cut and how to cut and what to eliminate, there has to be that direct connect to what would that corresponding offset be on the federal side, and how will that impact us. Because it’s not just a decision that impacts just the state dollars.”
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