Dem 51
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GOP 49
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North to Alaska

As long as we are on the subject... why, exactly, was Joe Biden in Alaska, of all places? There are actually two answers to that. The first, which isn't that interesting, is that he was on his way back from the G20 summit in Asia, and Alaska was the easiest U.S. state for him to stop in. The second, which is considerably more interesting, is that lavishing attention on The Last Frontier is pretty much the only way to wring even the tiniest bit of bipartisanship out of Washington.

It is not a secret that the Democrats have a majority in the Senate, but one that includes two unreliable votes in Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ). It's also not a secret that if the White House needs to find one more vote, say because Manchin and Sinema are pouting, the most plausible option is Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). She's a moderate, is willing to be a maverick sometimes, and comes from a state where that profile is acceptable. Needless to say, one more vote isn't going to overcome a filibuster, but it is enough to get some appointments across the finish line.

The White House isn't going to get every vote from Murkowski, of course, or even most of them, since she's still a Republican. But if Team Biden is to maximize Murkowski's support, well, she wants the White House to understand the "special" issues facing Alaskans. And the White House wants her to understand that they will jump through nearly any hoops she tosses in their way.

In an effort to make nice with the Senator, a veritable parade of White House muckety-mucks has donned their heavy coats and made a trip to Alaska, even if it meant passing through or over Canada. There's Biden, of course, and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who is going to be able to buy his own plane with all the frequent flier miles he's racking up as SoT. Attorney General Merrick Garland has gone, and so have HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, EPA Administrator Michael Regan, White House senior adviser Mitch Landrieu, Deputy Interior Secretary Tommy Beaudreau, and senior HHS administrator Tom Coderre.

We cannot imagine why the AG, in particular, would need to visit Alaska in person. But we are sure that Murkowski appreciates the effort. And it is indeed an effort, given not only that the state is pretty far from Washington, but also that many parts of the state are not especially accessible, even once you get there. For example, Buttigieg's visit involved a six-hour trip on a boat, in addition to all the flying. You'd think he'd also mix a dog sled in, so he could have the full experience.

This is not that important, of course, but we do like to pass along items about how the sausage is being made. And this is definitely one of those, even if the sausage is made of reindeer meat in this case. (Z)

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