Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski postponed a Thursday vote to confirm six of President Trump's nominations for the departments of energy and the interior after she received a phone call from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke warning her about repercussions for Alaska because of how she voted on legislation to repeal Obamacare this week.
The Alaska Republican is the chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and has made it a priority to move Trump's Energy and Interior Department nominees to the floor as fast as possible, especially since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had to shut down because of a lack of members.
But things appeared to change Wednesday after Zinke's call. He reportedly told both Murkowski and fellow Alaskan Sen. Dan Sullivan, who is also a Republican, that the chairwoman's vote on Tuesday could mean that Alaska gets left out of decisions that the Interior Department has authority over.
Those decisions could affect mining and oil and natural gas development in the state, as well as transportation and infrastructure development, Sullivan told the Alaska Dispatch News.
Murkowski's office told the Washington Examiner that the chairwoman did receive a phone call from Zinke to express the president's displeasure with her vote. She did not confirm the threat that Sullivan said was conveyed to both senators.
"I pledged early on that I would work with the president to help advance Alaska's interests. I will continue to do that — to help build and strengthen our economy, keep the promises made to us as a state, and ensure access to healthcare," Murkowski said in a statement.
"While I have disagreed with the Senate process so far, the president and I agree that the status quo with healthcare in our country is not acceptable and that reforms must be made. I continue working to find the best path for what I believe will achieve that — a committee process where we can work issues in the open and ensure Alaskans have the healthcare choices they want, the affordability they need, and the quality of care they deserve."
A spokeswoman for Murkowski told the Washington Examiner that the votes in committee were postponed "due to uncertainty of the Senate schedule."
The extension was made as the Senate is debating legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare.
A week ago, Murkowski pledged to use the August work extension to move all of Trump's remaining energy appointees through the energy committee and to the floor.
The notice on the energy committee website said the business meeting to vote on the six nominees would be postponed until a later date not yet determined.
Staff writer Melissa Quinn contributed to this story.