Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski issued the following statement following President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union speech, which was given on Tuesday evening in the U.S. Capitol:
“We just listened to President Biden’s first State of the Union address to Congress. And I believe he started his address appropriately and with the right tone, indicating that the world is watching the devastation in Ukraine, the atrocities that we are seeing delivered by President Putin out of Russia, reminding us all as a nation that we cannot stand by, the United States cannot stand by, the free nations of this world cannot stand by while Russia invades an innocent country, with innocent lives being lost.
“It was a reminder to us again of the strength of the spirit of the Ukrainian people and a reminder that democracy is something to fight for every day, and we will stay committed to that fight and the Ukrainian people and the many around the world are coming together.
“So, I think the emphasis the President placed at the outset was very, very important for us in the United States but for the world to hear as well.
“I wish that there had been a greater emphasis, however, on the role of the greatest sanction of all. I certainly appreciate what has been put in place with financial sanctions, but we see how Putin has used energy as a weapon, as a tool in this effort in Ukraine and clearly with Europe. The President has chosen to not engage, to not engage literally with energy as a means of sanctions. He has made the announcement this evening that additional reserves from the Strategic Petroleum will be released to help alleviate temporarily the pressure that we are seeing on prices.
“But, this is inconsistent and, in my view, almost hypocritical that we would allow Russia to be able to provide this country with oil while we provide dollars to Russia to help them finance this war against Ukraine. This was a missed opportunity of President Biden tonight and one that I hope in the days ahead he sees the light and he recognizes that this is an area that we must look if we wish to really put the directed twist to Putin.
“He attempted to point out those areas of common ground, those areas that we should seek bipartisan unity. And I think he highlighted a few key areas where we have good work to do. There’s good support to addressing the issue of burn pits to help our veterans. He spoke to the issue of mental health and what more needs to be done. He raised the issue, again, of something that I care very much about and that’s violence against women and what more we can be doing when it comes to public safety. So those are areas that I think he was right to point to.
“But it was a bit incongruous when he cited specifically to some measures that have been taken before the Congress and resoundly defeated on a party line basis. And he’s asked us to basically run that play again. That to me doesn’t deliver the kind of unity that we need. That to me is not where we want to be focusing our energies.
“We need to be working together on these areas of common ground. We need to be working together to, again, show the world a unified front when we are engaged in aspects of a very, very difficult situation in Europe. We need to be behind our military, behind our veterans, behind those that are truly putting everything that they have out on the line for us.
“The President hit some good points when it came to Ukraine and Russia, but I think he failed when trying to bring the nation together in a manner and a way that strikes the right chord on unity.”
Republican Senate challenger Kelly Tshibaka was not as charitable toward the speech — or toward Murkowski. She issued the following statement:
“Of course, what we needed to hear from Joe Biden was exactly what he didn’t say. He should have said he was wrong to attack Alaska’s resource industries because he now sees that squandering our energy independence has disastrous ramifications on the world stage. He should have said he was wrong to prioritize a pipeline that Vladimir Putin wanted over the production of energy back home. And he should have said he intends to sanction Putin’s energy industries as punishment for invading Ukraine, while increasing our own energy output to compensate.
“But he didn’t say any of those things because he can’t. The radical environmentalists who are in control of him and his administration won’t allow it. This means that, fundamentally, environmental radicals are in charge of America’s foreign policy.
“Biden is a failure of a president, but incredibly, Lisa Murkowski continues to enable him. She cast the tie-breaking committee vote to advance Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to final confirmation, putting Haaland in power to lead Biden’s energy-annihilating agenda. Murkowski’s excuse is that her vote really didn’t matter because all this was going to happen anyway with Biden as president. This ignores two things: first, Murkowski helped enable Biden to become president by vocally opposing President Donald Trump, and second, the job of Alaska’s senator is to fight for Alaska, regardless of who is president.
“When I’m the next senator from Alaska, I won’t just throw up my hands in futility. When something is bad for us, I’ll fight like hell for Alaska and do everything in my power to stop it.”