Q: The federal deficit has increased each year since 2016, according to government data, after declining from the high in response to the 2008-09 Great Recession. The government last had a surplus in 2001. Beginning in 2016, increases in spending on Social Security, health care, and interest on the federal debt have outpaced the growth of federal revenue, according to the government’s tracking website. What do you propose for reducing the deficit?
A: Our national debt is soaring at over $24 trillion. In the short term, climbing out of this health care pandemic and economic crisis is the top challenge. We must restructure federal spending by implementing common-sense reforms. Projected future deficits have exploded under the current administration. I support closing loopholes that allow hiding corporate profits in foreign countries and tax giveaways to millionaires. Instead, I support bipartisan solutions to narrowing our deficit by passing true tax reform and looking for opportunities to reduce costs. Another example is using the federal government’s purchasing power to save billions on federal prescription drug costs.
Q: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with President Trump’s COVID-19 response? Explain
A: The federal administration’s response to the pandemic is woefully inconsistent and inadequate. We need leaders who bring people together, listen to experts, take responsibility, and ensure knowledge and supplies are in the right places to solve the healthcare pandemic, not shift blame and score partisan points. Our delegation in Washington, D.C. must work tirelessly making sure Alaska’s small businesses get what they need to stay in business and keep employees.
Q: Explain your view on climate change. Is it a problem and what, if anything, should Congress do to address the issue?
A: Alaska is ground zero for negative effects of climate change. I accept the overwhelming scientific evidence of human impacts on our climate and its threat to our national security. I am focused on taking common sense, durable steps addressing climate change in creative ways. We need legislative solutions for all the stakeholders in our resource and culture-rich state that grow Alaska’s economy, including research and clean, affordable energy for communities.
Q: President Trump has made clear he wants to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act. Do you support DACA or do you share President Trump’s desire to eliminate the “Dreamers” program? Explain.
A: It is unfair to pull the rug out from under hardworking, law-abiding, young adults who were brought here as children decades ago and have grown up seeing themselves as American taxpayers and this country as their home. We must work toward comprehensive immigration reform that modernizes our system and gives more certainty, safety, and dignity to all.
Q: The Supreme Court recently ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s protections against sex discrimination in the workplace protects LGBTQ individuals against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Do you agree with this ruling? Explain.
A: I have seen firsthand the insidious effects of institutional discrimination and prejudice. The values I will bring to Washington are grounded in advocacy to provide an opportunity for all. This includes our neighbors and friends in the LGBTQ community.
Q: In the wake of George Floyd’s death at the end of May, large-scale reforms in law enforcement and policing are being called for across the country. What changes, if any, would you like to see? Does Congress have a role in the subject?
A: Our police are vital to ensuring that our communities are safe. Police have tremendous power and authority, and with that comes accountability. In Alaska, we need more federal resources for effective law enforcement. Our nation is ready to confront inherent bias in our system of justice. While most reform should be handled at the local level, Congress must ensure there are no unreasonable barriers to police transparency and accountability.
Q: Nearly one-third of the Interior rural communities represented by Tanana Chiefs Conference have no running water village-wide. This is the case for many rural villages across the state. What steps would you take to improve village sanitation?
A: The lack of safe water and sewer in many Alaska communities is a national disgrace, and members of Congress must be continuously reminded of their failure to support basic human needs, especially evident in this healthcare pandemic. I will push for federal investment in infrastructure for our rural communities. I will look for opportunities to insert critical federal programs covering public health, drinking water, and rural infrastructure for Alaskans.
Q: While drilling projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska are moving forward, Alaska is seeing a drop in oil company activity in the state. What, if anything, should Congress do to incentivize oil development in Alaska?
A: This is a critical issue that hits home for me as my husband works for a small oil company. Congress can best help support Alaska’s oil industry by streamlining the permitting process and investing in infrastructure. As an oil family we know that oil company activity goes up and down due to many factors. Alaska’s economy relies on responsible oil development, and Congress must do its part.
Q: Alaska faces some of the worst rates of sexual assault and domestic violence in the country, particularly in the state’s Indigenous population. What, if anything, should Congress do to address the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence and missing and murdered Indigenous women?
A: Indigenous women are facing an epidemic of disappearances, homicide, violent crime, and trafficking and the responsibility to stop it falls on all of us. I will work to ensure that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is reauthorized and strengthened, including expanding tribal courts’ authority to process offenders. Along with this, Alaska must have federal support for local policing as too many communities don’t have reliable public safety officers.
Q: Do you support the Affordable Care Act or do you think the program should be repealed? If you support repealing it, what, if anything, should replace it?
A: At a time when many Alaskans are losing health care coverage due to job losses from the pandemic, we should be looking for opportunities to significantly improve the ACA, not repeal it. Seeing a doctor is out of reach for many Alaskans and healthcare costs are strangling many small businesses. Over 60,000 Alaskans would lose their coverage if ACA were repealed. Our entire healthcare system is broken and must be fixed.
Q: The percentage of Alaska’s total population that is age 65 and older is increasing. The Social Security trust fund is projected to be depleted in 2035 because the cost of providing benefits has been exceeding income. Without any change, the depletion would lead to a reduction in benefits to match the income. What is your suggested solution, if any?
A: Our elders are very important to us here in Alaska. Social Security benefits for seniors have been earned and promised after a lifetime of hard work. Congress must protect that promise. I oppose changes that would weaken the fundamental purpose of Social Security and betray the reliance of those close to retirement. Finding a bipartisan solution to this issue will be a priority for me when I serve in Congress.
Q: The University of Alaska has one of the smallest federal land grants among public universities in the 50 states. For a variety of reasons it has never received all of the land it is supposed to have received, thereby limiting the amount of money it can raise through land ownership. Several attempts in Congress to provide additional land have failed since the mid-1990s. What will you do about this?
A: Alaska’s Congressional delegation has attempted for many years to secure an increase in this land grant. Given the recent cuts to the UA budget, it is more critical than ever that UA receives this source of income. As a long-time advocate for education, this will be a high priority for me in Congress. I will work within my caucus to identify and overcome any barriers to move this forward.
Q: More Russian military activity near Alaska Air Defense Zones and U.S. waters has recently been reported than is typical. Does this concern you? What, if anything, should the U.S. do in response? Explain.
A: Yes, I am concerned. This is a delicate time, our nation is tackling a number of large domestic issues, but we must not be distracted from protecting our borders. In response, the U.S. needs to have a consistent and firm policy to protect our national security, not an impulsive and unpredictable one. We must strongly communicate that the U.S. will not condone this activity.
Q: Would you support the free distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine to all U.S. residents? How would this be paid for? Explain.
A: I support a free COVID-19 vaccine for those who want one. This includes both the cost of the vaccine and the cost of administering it. Bipartisan collaboration is required to pay for this. The cost of providing a vaccine will pale in comparison to the cost to our economy (and our federal revenue) if we don’t end this pandemic as soon as possible.
Q: In what ways, if any, should the country decrease reliance on oil and gas in favor of more renewable sources of energy? Explain.
A: The Trump administration recently announced a plan to open the full 1.65 million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas leasing, sparking a series of lawsuits from environmental protection groups and the Gwich’in Nation over alleged violations of Indigenous land rights. Do you feel the Gwich’in people should have been directly consulted by the Bureau of Land Management on this issue? Explain.
Q: The Trump administration recently announced a plan to open the full 1.65 million-acre coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas leasing, sparking a series of lawsuits from environmental protection groups and the Gwich’in Nation over alleged violations of Indigenous land rights. Do you feel the Gwich’in people should have been directly consulted by the Bureau of Land Management on this issue? Explain.
A: Government to government consultation is appropriate with federally recognized Gwich’in tribal organizations, as well as the Inupiat and other Native tribes affected. I support ANWR exploration and development. I am also an advocate for increased tribal participation in natural resource management. Those are not incompatible. We need to continue to look for ways to work together on the tough issues we face, and that starts with respectful communication.