- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2017

After threatening to scrap Alaskan energy projects in response to Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s “no” vote on Obamacare repeal, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Wednesday night mended fences with the Alaska Republican over a couple of cold ones.

The secretary early Thursday tweeted a photo of himself enjoying an Alaskan beer alongside the senator, one of three GOP members who opposed the party’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act last month.

“I say dinner, she says brews. My friends know me well,” Mr. Zinke tweeted, including a beer emoji in his message.

The two Republicans clashed after Ms. Murkowski’s vote on health care, which drew fire from President Trump who charged that the senator, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, had let the party and the country down.

Mr. Zinke reacted by calling Ms. Murkowski and Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, a Republican, and threatening to pull the plug on key Alaska projects, including the long-awaited King Cove road and oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The administration previously had vowed to expedite those projects.

The next day, Ms. Murkowski delayed committee votes on several high-level nominees for the Interior Department, though committee officials denied that the move was retaliation to Mr. Zinke’s threat.

In the midst of the fight, Ms. Murkowski tried to downplay the rift with the administration while also defending her position on health care.

“I pledged early on that I would work with the President to help advance Alaska’s interests. I will continue to do that — to help build and strengthen our economy, keep the promises made to us as a state, and ensure access to healthcare,” the senator said in a July 27 statement, the day after the phone call with Mr. Zinke.

“While I have disagreed with the Senate process so far, the President and I agree that the status quo with healthcare in our country is not acceptable and that reforms must be made. I continue working to find the best path for what I believe will achieve that — a committee process where we can work issues in the open and ensure Alaskans have the healthcare choices they want, the affordability they need, and the quality of care they deserve,” she added.

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