Washington, DC – U.S. Senators and Arctic Caucus Co-Chairs Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and Angus King (I-ME) introduced bipartisan legislation to codify the position of Ambassador-At-Large for the Arctic Region at the U.S. Department of State.
“Before the State Department announced last year that they would create the position of Arctic Ambassador, the United States was the only Arctic nation without a dedicated regional representative at the ambassador level or higher. Even some non-Arctic nations, including China, have established similar positions—giving them a leg-up on diplomacy, trade, and international norms in the region. It was welcome news that Dr. Mike Sfraga was nominated for the position, but we need to make it permanent, in law, so it endures across administrations,” Senator Murkowski said. “I’ve represented the United States at hundreds of Arctic events, so I’ve seen and heard firsthand the many benefits this permanent position would bring. The Arctic is rapidly changing, as are its geopolitical dynamics. If we want to have a voice in ensuring the region remains a zone of peace and prosperity, we have to have the people in place as well as the policies.”
“The United States is an Arctic Nation, and has significant economic and national security interests in the High North. We must be ready to capitalize on new opportunities while confronting areas of growing tension – including Russia’s blatant disregard for global norms and China’s increasing aggression – and that includes an authoritative diplomatic voice,”said Senator Angus King. “While it’s important that President Biden established and appointed an Arctic Ambassador, we must make this position permanent to show the global community we take our role in the Arctic seriously. As nations from outside the region venture northward, there should be no doubt the United States is bringing the full weight of our nation to the expanding domain.”
This legislation would formally authorize the Ambassador-At-Large for the Arctic Region position to represent the United States in matters and cases relevant to Arctic affairs.
Murkowski is the leading expert on Arctic issues and is dedicated to strengthening America’s leadership as an Arctic nation. In October 2021, she and Senator Angus King (I-ME) introduced the Arctic Diplomacy Act to establish an Assistant Secretary of State for Arctic Affairs.
In August 2022, after persistent urging from Murkowski, the State Department announced that “the President plans to elevate the Arctic Coordinator position by appointing an Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. The Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region will advance U.S. policy in the Arctic, engage with counterparts in Arctic and non-Arctic nations as well as Indigenous groups, and work closely with domestic stakeholders, including state, local, and Tribal governments, businesses, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, other federal government agencies and Congress.”
On February 16, 2023, President Biden nominated Dr. Mike Sfraga, an Alaskan and the chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, to be the nation’s first Arctic Ambassador.
Senators Cosponsoring the legislation with Murkowski are Senators Angus King (I-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK).
Click here for the full text of the introduced bill.