The U.S. Senate confirmed Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior by a vote of 68 to 31 Wednesday morning.
The man who lost to incumbent Steve Bullock in November's gubernatorial election is now running for the Republican nomination to replace Ryan Zinke in Congress.
Nevada U.S. Sens. Dean Heller, a Republican, and Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, voted to confirm President Donald Trump's pick to oversee the department that manages public lands, most of which are in West.
Senate Energy Committee chairman Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, called Zinke's nomination "solid" and emphasized the new secretary's passion for hunting and fishing.
Zinke also indicated he would review increased oil and gas drilling and mining on federal land and offshore areas.
The Interior Department is on the front lines of Trump's repeated pledge to expand US energy development and remove "obstacles" to exploration.
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Even if the talks had happened, some experts believe they would have had very little weight on the future of U.S. Such actions would increase instability in China's neighborhood - the last thing Beijing wants.
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. Congressman Zinke's hearing testimony and answers to my many questions give me a level of confidence that he understands the serious and essential responsibilities of the Secretary of the Interior to defend our precious public lands and uphold the Tribal trust responsibility. "I'm not sure he will be able to stand up to the president and protect the public interest".
He told the committee he planned to restore trust by working with states, local communities and tribes on balancing use between energy and natural resource development, recreation and conservation.
A former member of the Navy's elite SEAL Team Six, Zinke was awarded two Bronze Stars for missions in Iraq.
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.
Zinke was first elected to the House in 2014 and won a re-election bid this year.