Lisa Murkowski

Lisa Ann Murkowski (born May 22, 1957) is an American politician of the Republican party and the junior United States Senator from Alaska. She is the first woman ever elected to Congress from her state, in addition to being the first senator born in Alaska.

Early life, family, and career

Murkowski was born in Ketchikan, Alaska to Nancy R. Gore and Frank Murkowski. Her paternal grandfather was of Polish descent and her mother's side was Irish. As a child, she and her family moved all over the state due to her father's job. Lisa earned a B.A. in economics from Georgetown University in 1980, and a Juris Doctor from Willamette University College of Law in 1985.

She became a member of the Alaska Bar Association in 1987. She was an attorney in Anchorage, Alaska from 1985 to 1998. She also served, from 1990 to 1991, on the mayor's task force on the homeless.

In 1998, she was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives and served as House Majority Leader for the 2003–2004 session. Murkowski sat on the Alaska Commission on Post Secondary Education and chaired both the Labor and Commerce and the Military and Veterans Affairs Committees. In 1999 she introduced legislation establishing a Joint Armed Services Committee.

Murkowski is married to Verne Martell. She has two children, Nic and Matt. Her father, Frank Murkowski, was Governor of Alaska from 2002 to 2006 in addition to being her immediate predecessor in the Senate.

U.S. Senate

Murkowski, while a member of the state House, was appointed by her father, Governor Frank Murkowski, to his own unexpired senate seat in December 2002, which he had vacated after being elected governor. She was subsequently elected to a full six-year term against former Governor Tony Knowles in the 2004 election, after winning a primary challenge by a large margin. Near the end of the general campaign, senior senator Ted Stevens shot campaign ads for Murkowski and warned the public that if a Democrat replaced Murkowski they were likely to receive fewer federal dollars.

Murkowski is a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership and supports stem cell research. She is also a member of the Republican Majority For Choice, Republicans For Choice, and The Wish List (Women in the Senate and House), a group of pro-choice women Republicans.

In July 2007, Murkowski stated she would sell back land she bought from Anchorage businessman Bob Penney, a day after a Washington watchdog group filed a Senate ethics complaint against her, alleging that Penney sold the property well below market value. The Anchorage Daily News noted, "The transaction amounted to an illegal gift worth between $70,000 and $170,000, depending on how the property was valued, according to the complaint by the National Legal and Policy Center. According to the Associated Press, Murkowski bought the land from two developers tied to the Ted Stevens probe.

In 2008, Murkowski amended her Senate financial disclosures for 2004 through 2006, adding income of $60,000 per year from the sale of a property in 2003, and more than $40,000 a year from the sale of her "Alaska Pasta Company" in 2005.

Policy and issues

Murkowski is considered a moderate Republican. She is one of ten Republican Senators who refused to commit to Bill Frist's "nuclear option" to end judicial filibusters, and she supported H.R. 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which would have permitted the Secretary of Health and Human Services to support taxpayer-funded research on stem cells. Congress passed the bill, but President George W. Bush vetoed it.

Murkowski voted with Democrats and moderate Republicans on H.R. 976, which called for the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to provide coverage for additional uninsured children. That bill passed both the House and the Senate, but was vetoed by President Bush. She supports health care reforms in her native state as well, largely because health care costs for Alaskans are up to 70% higher than costs in the continental United States.

On abortion, Murkowski has a "mixed record" rating (50%) from the National Right to Life Committee, and a pro-life rating (14%) from the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL).

On voting rights, Murkowski supported the Republican leadership's continued denial of representation in the Congress for DC, voting against bringing the DC Voting Rights Act to the floor.

On environmental issues, for 2003, the nonpartisan watchdog group League of Conservation Voters rated Murkowski at 11% on environmental issues: "During her short time in the Senate," Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power, "has thrown her support behind efforts to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). For the 109th Congress, Republicans for Environmental Protection, a conservative group dedicated to environmental causes, issued Murkowski a rating of 2%, noting that in 2006 she voted:

  • against S.C. Resolution 83, intended to bolster energy security and lower energy-related environmental impacts
  • against an amendment to S. 728 which would make the Army Corps of Engineers more accountable for the environmental and economic impacts of their projects
  • for oil drilling in ANWR
  • for offshore oil and gas drilling.

Most Democrats and some moderate Republicans oppose Arctic oil drilling because of concerns about environmental damage. Murkowski believes that recent technological developments make it possible to drill without incurring such damage.

On December 14, 2007, the Senate passed an energy bill that, among other things, encourages the use of renewable fuels. The legislation, which Murkowski supported, raises the renewable fuels standard to require the production of 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022, compared to the current production of about 7 billion gallons a year.

Committee assignments

  • Energy and Natural Resources Committee
    • Subcommittee on Energy
    • Subcommittee on National Parks
    • Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests
  • Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
    • Subcommittee on Children and Families
    • Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety
  • Senate Foreign Relations Committee
    • Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Ranking Member)
    • Subcommittee on European Affairs
    • Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs, and International Environmental Protection
  • Committee on Indian Affairs (Vice Chairman)

Electoral history

See also


External links

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