Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke won Senate confirmation Wednesday as President Donald Trump’s Interior secretary, giving him responsibility for overseeing the nation’s 400 million acres of public land, mostly in the West.
The Republican-controlled Senate approved the nomination, 68-31 as 16 Democrats and one independent joined with 51 Republicans to support the choice. Several Democrats from Western states as well as those facing tough re-elections next year, including Montana’s Jon Tester, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted for Zinke.
— SenDanSullivan (@SenDanSullivan) March 1, 2017
Trump’s choice to lead Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, cleared a Senate hurdle on a 62-37 vote. Carson’s confirmation was expected later this week.
With Zinke’s approval, the Senate has confirmed 16 out of 22 of Trump’s Cabinet and Cabinet-level nominations.
Zinke, 55, a former Navy SEAL and Montana state senator, resigned as a delegate to the Republican National Convention last year to protest the GOP’s position in favor of land transfers to state or private groups.
Still, his stance on public lands has come into question in recent weeks after he voted in favor of a House rule that would allow federal land transfers to be considered cost-free and budget-neutral, making it easier for drilling and development.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Zinke at Interior should “concern every lover of our great and grand national parks.”
Senate voted 68-31 to confirm Ryan Zinke as Sec. of Interior. I’m eager to work w/him to restore balance to management of federal areas. pic.twitter.com/PEEgMlXG7Y
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) March 1, 2017
Dismissing the Republican’s claim to be like the late President Teddy Roosevelt, Schumer said, “You can’t be a Roosevelt conservationist if you sell off public lands.”
Countering the Democrat, Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines said Zinke “will be a strong advocate for our public lands.”