Scandal erupted when the Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, called senators in Alaska on Thursday, urging them to follow the Republican party when it came to the vote on Obamacare repeal. The call was especially notable considering the fact that 61% of Alaska belongs to the federal government.

Sen. Murkowski demurs

The debate over whether or not to repeal Obamacare is now reaching into its eighth month since Republicans formed majorities in both congressional houses and placed a president in the White House. Although a house bill was passed earlier this year with much difficulty, a similar Senate document is proving nearly impossible to create.

In order for the issue to officially reach the floor for debate, it was necessary for Sen John McCain (R-Ariz.) to return to the Senate after a harrowing brain cancer diagnosis as well as for Vice President to come in a break the tie. While Mitch McConnell has managed to wrangle dissenting Republican senators into place with constantly updated plans, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, (R-Alaska) have refused to back the bill.

This creates unwanted uncertainty for Republicans. They will need at least 51 votes for any bill to pass. Already, several proposed bills have failed, prompting Donald Trump to contact Murkowski, one of the dissenters, and tweet about his disappointment in her.

As one of Trump’s most important campaign promises and the signature Republican rallying calls all through the 8 years of the Obama Administration, the difficulty in passing a repeal bill has significantly damaged support. According to a Gallup poll, Trump' ratings are below 40 percent.

Secretary Zinke calls

Perhaps in an act of desperation for the administration, Zinke contacted both senators from Alaska.

Zinke told Murkowski, "the President is really disappointed in what he perceives to be as your lack of support for health care reform."

Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Murkowski's fellow senator said that he found the call “troubling.” Sullivan has already stated his support for the repeal bill. However, when asked about his counterpart's stance, he said that he was not willing to tell Murkowski, his senior senator, what to do.

Murkowski for her part, stated to CNN, that she "disagreed with the Senate process so far." She continued on to express that she was looking for an open process that would leave Alaskans with “the health care choices they want, the affordability they need, and the quality of care they deserve.” Republicans in Alaska, however, are becoming increasingly antsy.

What's at stake?

The Department of the Interior and Alaska work closely together with projects such as including a possible Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as well as federal land allocation for oil and gas drilling, and free passes on offshore oil drilling in currently off-limits Arctic waters.

Zinke's call has been denounced by Democrats as blackmail. Arizona's Raul Grijalva, a top House Democrat, said Zinke had crossed the line. “Threatening to punish your rivals as political blackmail is something we’d see from the n."