US Senate confirms Montana Rep. Zinke as Interior Secretary

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Donald Trump's pick to head the Department of Interior GOP Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke.

Still, his stance has come into question after he voted in favor of a House rule that would allow federal land transfers to be considered cost-free and budget-neutral.

Zinke needs only a majority of votes in the 100-member chamber and is expected to get most, if not all, of his fellow Republicans, who lead the chamber, and some votes from Democrats.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Zinke at Interior should "concern every lover of our great and grand national parks".

"Defenders of Wildlife will seek to work closely with Secretary Zinke and his leadership team to meet the challenges facing our nation's public lands and wildlife, outlined in the Wildlife Conservation Agenda we presented to the Trump administration following the election".

Also Wednesday, the Senate advanced the nomination of former presidential candidate Ben Carson to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

With Zinke's approval, the Senate has confirmed 16 out of 22 of Trump's Cabinet and Cabinet-level nominations.

Cortez Masto said she had also made clear to Zinke that "Nevadans support Gold Butte [National Monument], and we'd like to keep it that way".

Zinke also pledged to tackle an estimated $12 billion backlog in maintenance and fix at national parks and stand firm against attempts to sell, give away or transfer federal lands. And he vowed to stand firm against pressure to sell or transfer federal lands.

The White House is expected to issue an executive order soon reversing former President Barack Obama's temporary moratorium on coal leasing on USA lands, which is part of a wider review of the program.

"The Department of the Interior is an agency of enormous significance to the lives of New Mexicans, Native Americans, and people across the West and the nation".

On the other side, Democrats were wary of the nomination, even though Ryan Zinke previously declared that he believes humans contribute to the climate changes.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), whose state is home to many federal workers, said he was anxious how a possible department reorganization could affect Interior's mission and employees, as well as any potential agency budget cuts or "opening up" of environmentally sensitive areas.

  • Joey Payne