Updated on July 27 at 1:22 p.m. ET
It’s arm-twisting time in the Senate as Republicans close in on a decisive health-care vote, and the arm President Trump has decided to wring hardest belongs to Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Murkowski, a former member of the party leadership now beginning her third six-year term, angered the president by defying him on a key procedural vote to begin debate on Tuesday. Along with Senator Susan Collins of Maine, she was one of two Republicans voting against the motion, which succeeded only when Vice President Mike Pence broke a 50-50 tie. Trump ignored Collins but assailed Murkowski in a tweet on Wednesday morning, saying she “really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday.”
But the retaliation didn’t stop with a tweet. According to the Alaska Dispatch News, both Murkowski and fellow Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan (who did vote to begin debate) received a call from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke warning them that Murkowski’s vote, in the newspaper’s words, “put Alaska’s future with the administration in jeopardy.” Sullivan would not be specific, but told the Dispatch News that he feared “that the strong economic growth, pro-energy, pro-mining, pro-jobs and personnel from Alaska who are part of those policies are going to stop.” The paper speculated that could refer to nominations of Alaskans to administration posts and support for expanded oil drilling advocated by the two senators.