Alaska senator launches Arctic caucus
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Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOvernight Defense: Highlights from Defense pick's confirmation hearing | Esper spars with Warren over ethics | Sidesteps questions on Mattis vs. Trump | Trump says he won't sell F-35s to Turkey Epstein charges show Congress must act to protect children from abuse PBS premieres first nationally distributed kids' show with Native American lead MORE (R-Alaska) said Wednesday that senators were launching an Arctic caucus, which will focus on helping build U.S. leadership in the region. 

The Alaska Republican and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) are forming the caucus, which will include discussions on a range of issues including defense, energy, environment and trade. 

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“I'm calling on colleagues in the Senate to join me, to step up, to help us not only build out policy initiatives, but really take that leadership role we should be doing as an Arctic nation,” she said from the Senate floor. “Embrace your inner-Arctic self.”

The Alaska Republican said she also planned to introduce legislation “soon” that would help bolster infrastructure development in the region, as well as improve weather mapping and charting.

The new caucus comes as the United States is poised next month to begin a two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental group that focuses on cooperation in the region. 

Murkowski is planning to hold a committee hearing Thursday, which she said will be the “first-ever hearing” on the Arctic as a whole. With other committees canceling hearings ahead of an expected snowstorm, she invited her colleagues to join the meeting. 

“We may be the only committee that is open for business. We may be the only senators that are here in—in the building,” she said. “I'm encouraging all my colleagues who may be locked out because you couldn't jump on a flight quick enough or you couldn't get on the roads soon enough. ...We will be having I think a very informative hearing tomorrow within the Energy Committee.”