Mr. Zinke’s call with Senator Murkowski backfired amazingly.
“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke called Murkowski and the state’s other Republican senator, Dan Sullivan, to threaten that the Trump administration may change its position on several issues that affect the state to punish Murkowski, such as blocking energy exploration and plans to allow the construction of new roads. “The message was pretty clear,” Sullivan told the Alaska Dispatch News.
Nevertheless, Murkowski persisted. In fact, she took it one step further and demonstrated that she has more leverage over Zinke than he has over her. As chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Murkowski indefinitely postponed a nominations markup that the Interior Department badly wants.
This demonstrated the degree to which Zinke’s ham-handed phone call was political malpractice. The secretary, or whoever at the White House ordered him to make the calls, clearly doesn’t understand the awesome power that comes with being the chairman of a Senate committee. Only an amateur would threaten the person who has oversight over his agency! If she wants, Murkowski can make Zinke’s life so unbelievably miserable**.”