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Democrats protest Murkowski land swap legislation

Two Democrats walked out of a Senate Energy Committee meeting on Wednesday in protest of two Alaska Native land swap measures introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R).

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico), the ranking member of the panel, and Sen. Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) left just as Murkowski's bills came up for discussion. Since one Republican hadn't attended the meeting, this left the committee without the quorum needed to approve the legislation.

Democrats said they walked out to protest the Republican's refusal to negotiate on the bills. But Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, demanded an apology and said the would hold back bills sponsored by Democrats seeking re-election.

One of Murkowski's bills benefits two Alaska Native corporations and has generated controversy. The other bill would speed up the conveyance of land to Native corporations.

Get the Story:
Stevens condemns Democrats' walkout (The Anchorage Daily News 9/17)