I started the August congressional recess off with a bang hosting U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell from Washington State, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Senator Cantwell and I spent a busy day in Anchorage focusing on rural safety and health care, and most of the next day in Galena reviewing progress rebuilding after this spring's terrible flooding. Rebuilding in Galena is slow, with local residents concerned about the amount of progress they'll be able to make by fall freeze-up.
Senator Cantwell got a real eye-opener visiting the Pekola family fish camp on the Yukon River. The visit was a great demonstration of how we need to protect subsistence for rural Alaskans. Before heading to Galena, we also had a productive meeting with the Tanana Chiefs Conference in Fairbanks to discuss issues from broadband in rural Alaska to firefighting agreements with the federal government.
On Tuesday, I'll speak about Alaska's relationship with the federal government at a two-day summit called by state legislators. My message is that we've won many battles to benefit Alaska by standing up to the feds, but Alaska also receives enormous benefits, including federal dollars, which keep Alaska's economy healthy. Alaska ranks third among all states for receipt of federal funds, including more than a fourth of this year's state budget. By fighting for Alaska's rights, I've helped to secure permits for Arctic oil and gas development, won approval for several Alaska mine projects and protected our basic Second Amendment rights.
Later this month, I look forward to visiting many other Alaska communities including Kenai, Barrow, Palmer, Wasilla and Fairbanks. Hopefully I'll get to spend a little time enjoying the August weather at the State Fair in Palmer.
Senator Mark Begich