Murkowski is not afraid to buck the party line or criticize Trump. Could it cost her in 2022?

Andrew Trunsky, DCNF

  • Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has maintained a sharply independent voting record while in Congress, adopting a far more moderate stance than almost every GOP senator.
  • Though Murkowski voted in line with former President Donald Trump over 70% of the time, she has not been afraid to buck the Republican Party line, on issues including abortion, health care and same sex marriage.
  • While Murkowski’s non-party line voting record has kept her in Congress for almost two decades, her stark condemnation of Trump’s post-election rhetoric and her vote to impeach him in January may put her reelection at risk.

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has maintained a sharply independent voting record while in Congress, adopting a far more moderate stance than almost every GOP senator.

Though Murkowski voted in line with former President Donald Trump over 70% of the time, she ranked higher aligned with him more often than just two other GOP senators, according to Five Thirty Eight. She has not been afraid to buck the Republican Party line on issues including abortion, health care and same sex marriage. Her breaks from the party and harsh criticism of Trump following the Capitol riot, however, has been met with criticism from Trump-branded Republicans, and drew a high-profile primary challenger seeking to oust her next year.

While Murkowski’s non-party line voting record has kept her in Congress for almost two decades, her stark condemnation of Trump’s post-election rhetoric and her vote to impeach him in January may put her reelection at risk. One March 29 poll shows Kelly Tshibaka, her GOP challenger, leading by nearly 15 points, while another showed Trump with a favorability rating nine points higher than her own.

Murkowski is one of the few Republicans left in Congress who opposes defunding Planned Parenthood and overturning Roe v. Wade. In 2020 she voted against banning abortions after 20 weeks and was one of two Republicans who voted against an amendment prohibiting federal funding from going to abortion or family planning providers.

She also supports ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, breaking with conservative groups who have alleged that it would further protect abortion rights. She has a 64% score from Planned Parenthood, while most Republicans have a score of zero.

On health care, while Murkowski opposed the Affordable Care Act in 2009, she voted against its removal in 2017 without a sufficient replacement. She was one of seven Republicans who voted against it, and also opposed the “skinny repeal” which would have crippled the bill if passed.

She did, however, vote against the confirmation of Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, though he was confirmed after Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins voted in favor.

Murkowski has supported same-sex marriage since 2013, though in the mid 2000s repeatedly opposed the issue and even voted for a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between one man and woman. While more Republicans have come out in support of same-sex marriage, Murkowski has broken with them on other issues relating to LGBTQ rights more broadly.

In March, Murkowski was the only Republican senator to vote against an amendment that would have prohibited states, schools and universities from receiving federal funds if they allowed transgender women to participate in women’s sports. She was one of two Republicans who voted in March to confirm Rachel Levine, a physician and transgender woman, as the assistant health secretary.

Murkowski has taken a moderate, bipartisan approach on immigration as well. She voted for the DREAM Act, which gave non-citizen minors temporary amnesty and the right to work, and for a comprehensive immigration bill in 2013 that would have beefed up border security while granting a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

Murkowski does align with the majority of Republicans on a spectrum of issues. She supports low taxes and few regulations, voted for Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, and has had an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. She is also an advocate for expanding domestic energy production, and has supported efforts to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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