U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan is set to deliver his annual address to the Alaska Legislature at 11 a.m. Thursday.
Watch a live stream here, on 360 North television, or tune into KTOO-FM.
Reporter Liz Ruskin covers Sullivan as Alaska Public Media’s correspondent in Washington, D.C. We talked earlier this week about this upcoming address and some context on Sullivan’s areas of expertise.
“He’s really trying to make a name for himself in military issues, and to some extent, international relations,” Ruskin said. “He, of course, used to work for the State Department in the Bush administration. So he seems very comfortable talking about military affairs and international relations.”
Ruskin said she’s been especially eager to hear Sullivan, who is a Marine reservist, articulate a position on President Donald Trump’s southern border emergency declaration. It could affect major military construction projects in Alaska.
“One of the questions that I have not been able to ask him is, with the president’s emergency declaration for the southern border, the White House is saying that the president will take $3.6 billion from military construction to divert that to wall construction on the southern border. So you know, one question that I would imagine someone would ask him that I would ask him if I had a chance is, you know, ‘What do you think of taking money that Congress allocated for military construction and using it for a wall construction on the southern border?’ I’m just curious what his position on that is.”
Specifically for Alaska, Ruskin reported that Congress has already earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars for military projects that the border emergency declaration could pull out of Alaska. That includes work to prepare for new advanced F-35 fighter jets at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, installation of a missile warning system in Clear and projects at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.
Sullivan is the more conservative of Alaska’s two Republican senators. But Ruskin noted he has established an interesting bipartisan relationship.
“Sen. Sullivan is returning as the chairman for the subcommittee on commerce that has to do with oceans. So that’s something that he’s become interested in, and interestingly, he has a partnership and a friendship with Sen. (Sheldon) Whitehouse. He’s a Democrat from Rhode Island, and they’re kind of an odd couple since Sen. Whitehouse is a big proponent of taking action on climate change. And Sen. Sullivan doesn’t accept the science on climate change. So they make kind of an unusual couple, unusual partnership. But they’ve teamed up for some ocean health issues, particularly plastic waste and marine debris.”
Ruskin also noted some of Sullivan’s new duties in D.C. over the last year.
“Sen. Sullivan, this year, he has a new subcommittee that he is the chairman of. It’s the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support. Military readiness is actually a really broad category that includes all kinds of things. His subcommittee is in charge of training and logistics, military construction, housing, construction, all kinds of things that have to do with military life. So that’s his new jurisdiction as chairman of this subcommittee of armed services.”
The Alaska Legislature has a tradition of inviting the congressional delegation in to deliver an address while they’re in session. They heard from Alaska’s senior senator, Lisa Murkowski, earlier this week.