US Senate News:
Source: United States Senator for Alaska Lisa Murkowski
Expanded Icebreaker Fleet, High Level Arctic Focused Position
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today announced that her legislative efforts on Arctic diplomacy were included in the base bill of the Strategic Competition Act of 2021, comprehensive, bipartisan legislation to counter China by confronting the nation’s economic and geopolitical power. To ensure that the United States has adequate capacity to prevent and respond to security threats in the Arctic region, the bill addresses the need to invest in a significantly expanded icebreaker fleet. The legislation also includes language establishing a position of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arctic Affairs and—at the discretion of the Secretary of State—the position can be delegated to rank of Special Representative or Special Envoy with the rank of Ambassador.
The Strategic Competition Act of 2021 was recently unveiled by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to be considered in Committee next week, on April 14. Click here for a copy of the bill.
“The Arctic is a national asset and should be treated as such. I have long been dedicated to helping our nation invest in the infrastructure and assets critical to supporting a comprehensive Arctic strategy. This includes the need for a full fleet of polar security cutters—icebreakers—to support that Arctic strategy and meet our national security needs. China has recently claimed to be a “near Arctic” state demonstrating its interest in the region to include investing in rare earth element mines. The US, as a true Arctic nation must not only invest in our own interests but also ensure the interests of others, including China, are in accordance with the established roles and norms of the region,” said Senator Murkowski. “I’m proud to see that some of my Arctic provisions were included in this bill, from prioritizing investments such as icebreakers to necessary staffing. One of the provisions included establishes a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arctic Affairs. A position specifically focused on the Arctic region not only will demonstrate to the world that the United States takes its status as an Arctic nation seriously, but also will make certain that there are staffing and resources necessary to reinforce the priority.”