Critical of GOP on jobs, Murkowski a thorn in McConnell’s side

Critical of GOP on jobs, Murkowski a thorn in McConnell’s side

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump pitches new plan to reopen government amid Dem pushback The Memo: Concern over shutdown grows in Trump World Kaine to force Senate to hold rare Saturday session amid shutdown MORE (Alaska) has leveled a stinging criticism at fellow Republicans by charging they are not focusing enough on job creation.
 
In Washington, where “jobs” has become the principal buzzword in partisan political arguments, Murkowski’s charge hurled back at her own side really stings. 
 

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Murkowski said GOP leaders have been spending too much time and effort on a “messaging” battle with Democrats over repealing healthcare reform when the issue most voters care about is high unemployment.
 
“I don’t believe that there are votes sufficient in the Senate to repeal healthcare reform,” Murkowski said Thursday in an interview with an Alaskan television station. “We’re in this situation where there is some messaging going on.
 
“The real question is how much time we in Congress spend on this messaging,” Murkowski said. “I don’t think that’s what the American public wants us to do. … I don’t think what people want is kind of the messaging that’s going on.”
 
Murkowski made her comment soon after Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Senate GOP eyes 'nuclear option' for Trump nominees next week Taiwan’s President Tsai should be invited to address Congress MORE (R-Ky.) vowed to reporters that he would force a vote on the healthcare reform repeal the GOP-controlled House passed this week.
 
Murkowski has become a growing headache for McConnell since she won a write-in reelection against Joe Miller, the Senate Republican nominee.
 
Miller defeated Murkowski in the Senate GOP primary; McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee backed Miller in the general election, albeit less vigorously them some conservatives such as Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) would have liked. 
 
McConnell and his colleagues also stripped Murkowski of her leadership post as vice chairman of the Senate Republican conference.
 
Senate Democrats pounced Friday morning, blast e-mailing a partial transcript of Murkowski’s interview to reporters.
 
Her exhortation to Republicans to focus on jobs echoed a similar one made by Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSenate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees Harry Reid knocks Ocasio-Cortez's tax proposal: Fast 'radical change' doesn't work Overnight Defense: Trump rejects Graham call to end shutdown | Coast Guard on track to miss Tuesday paychecks | Dems eye Trump, Russia probes | Trump talks with Erdogan after making threat to Turkey's economy MORE (D-Nev.).
 
After the House voted to repeal the healthcare reform legislation Congress passed last year, Reid slammed the effort as “nothing more than partisan grandstanding at a time when we should be working together to create jobs and strengthen the middle class.”
 
McConnell and other GOP leaders contend repealing the healthcare legislation will help create jobs by shielding businesses from regulations that will add to their costs. To that end, they have called their proposal the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.
 
McConnell reiterated that argument in response to President Obama’s unveiling of the new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which Jeffrey Immelt, the chairman and chief executive of General Electric, will head.
 
“The taxes on job creators, unsustainable entitlements and massive new spending in the health care law will make our economy less, not more competitive,” McConnell said in a statement.
 
“Unless the panel’s first recommendations are to reverse the damage the policies of the last two years have done to the business climate, job creation and the exploding national debt, I fear it will do more to create good public relations for the White House than good jobs for struggling Americans,” McConnell added.
 
Murkowski’s Thursday comment is the latest example of her taking a high-profile stance in opposition to GOP leaders.
 
Last month she was one of six Republicans to vote to kill a GOP filibuster of legislation ending the military’s policy of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
 
She also strongly opposed the earmark moratorium the Senate Republican conference adopted after the Nov. 2 election.
 
She said the “notion that Congress would abdicate its constitutional duty and turn federal spending over to government bureaucrats is wrong” and it would not reduce the level of spending by “one cent.”

Murkowski returned to the Capitol in November with what she called a “stiffer, straighter” backbone, having won without the support of her party.

“I have always been known to speak my mind, you can talk to my family about that,” Murkowski said.
 
“There is a difference,” she said. “I will be returned here to the United States Senate, it will be not because I came as my party’s nominee but because a very, very wide range of Alaskans of all political stripes have stepped and said 'you’re the person we want to represent us.' ”