Sullivan Votes Against $1.7 Trillion Spending Bill

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) released the following statement today after voting against H.R. 2617, the 4,155-page, $1.7 trillion omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2023.  

“End of year omnibus votes are always difficult because of the looming threat of a government shutdown and the fact that some of the provisions in these bills inevitably are ones that benefit Alaska. However, these massive spending bills are usually crafted through backroom deals with no debate and no time for Senators to do their appropriate due diligence on what is actually in them. This dysfunctional process is not worthy of the country and people we represent.

“There are a number of things in this bill that I support and strongly advocated for, such as robust funding for our military to counter the threats of this new era of authoritarian aggression led by Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping. Specifically, this bill increases defense spending by $45 billion above the President's anemic request, which is something I fought for as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and will continue the significant buildup of the U.S. military in Alaska. This bill also addresses other important Alaska priorities, including items I authored and coauthored, like the Alaska Salmon Research Task Force Act, the Visit America Act, language granting the University of Alaska’s land transfer, and funding to provide disaster relief for Alaska fishermen.

“However, this is a more than $1.7 trillion dollar spending bill consisting of 4,155 pages, with thousands more in supporting documents, negotiated and agreed to only by House and Senate leadership, and their staff. We were given approximately 48 hours to read and analyze it. Decisions were made behind closed doors, many of which are clearly beyond the expertise of those making them, and the legislative process once again provided no meaningful opportunity for further input from Senators.  

“Case in point: The final package we’ve been asked to support undermines national security in the Arctic by cutting funding for the building of Polar Security icebreakers and striking funding for the purchase of an icebreaker that the Coast Guard is planning to home-port in Juneau. This was a priority for the Alaska delegation. We have worked hard to get both the Trump and Biden administrations to support these critical American Arctic assets, and we were able to get them included in President Biden’s budget request, as well as in appropriation and authorization bills. But in the final hours of this opaque omnibus process, these funds were removed. By whom and for what reason, is not clear. This decision could further set back our nation’s ability to provide persistent presence in the Arctic for years. This is a major disappointment for our state and country. 

“As I have repeatedly emphasized, we need to fix our broken budget process that is not serving our military, government or the American people well.” 

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