Murkowski irked at tariffs, and Trump team

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski said President Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs aren’t good for Alaska and she’s frustrated with the inconsistency in the administration’s position.

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“When you have kind of a suggestion out there today, and it turns into a promise the next day, and then after that it’s ‘never mind,’ that makes it difficult,” Murkowski said.

Alaska’s senior U.S. senator said the tariffs could drive up costs for the oil and gas industry, as well as construction projects at Alaska’s military bases. She told reporters in Anchorage that Trump and his team need to craft clear policies and agree to them before they’re announced.

“Then that’s what you go out and sell. And Americans understand it. The Congress understands it. Our friends understand it. Our enemies understand it,” Murkowski said. “But when we kind of go back and forth and forth and back, I think that that’s kind of confusing. It’s difficult from a governance perspective.”

Murkowski also said she’s frustrated that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt seems to be consumed by problems that she said are of his own making, or his staff’s.

“And I think that that limits then his ability to be effective on the issues that we care about,” Murkowski said, citing Alaska-specific matters like permits for ground fish waste and small remote incinerators.

Pruitt is facing multiple investigations into his spending, travel and transactions with lobbyists. Murkowski said he didn’t have good answers when she asked him to explain himself at a hearing she chaired in two weeks ago.

“I think that he knows that that is not sustainable, for him to be able to lead that agency,” Murkowski said.

Sen. Dan Sullivan is also critical of the tariffs. He issued a statement calling it a “bad move” to apply the import taxes on goods from U.S. allies like Canada and the European Union.