The federal government shutdown has caused numerous problems in Alaska. Logging in the Tongass National Forest was halted, crab season was delayed, state biologists weren’t allowed to continue research in federal refuges and thousands of Alaskan federal workers went without a paycheck.
After 16 days, the U.S. Senate and House both voted to extend the debt limit through Feb. 7 and fund the federal government through Jan. 15. The bill includes back pay for federal workers, who are expected to return to work Thursday.
“Today’s agreement was a long time coming. But though some members of Congress are more interested in playing politics than keeping our economy strong, bipartisan agreements and compromise can still prevail,” Sen. Mark Begich said in a statement. “I am proud to say Sen. Murkowski and Rep. Young and I are an example of how effective a bipartisan delegation can be when we work together to put Alaskans first.”
Begich said he was pleased that the bill that was passed included a provision that keeps Congress from getting a pay raise.
Rep. Don Young said Congress needs to immediately get back to work to pass all the individual appropriations bills that fund government. He said that despite the credibility that Congress has lost with the American people, he remains optimistic about the future.
“I’ve been here for 18 government shutdowns now, and there is plenty of blame to go around – on both sides of the aisle – for causing this shutdown,” Young said in a statement, “but I think it is important to acknowledge that with a national debt nearing $17 trillion, federal government spending is simply on an unsustainable path, and must be reduced, and that point was largely lost during this shutdown.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office said that she worked to block language from the bill that would have kept tribes from being able to bring claims against the Indian Health Service for full reimbursement of contract support costs.
“And as we have noted, the agreement that has been reached – by our respective leaderships – while it is not the exact one that we came up with, there are certain elements of it that we had helped to shepherd,” Murkowski said in a statement. “The news that’s coming out today is that there’s a deal and that deal should give America hope, but it doesn’t get us out of the mess that we’re in.”