Montana Public Radio

Montana's Ryan Zinke Is The New Interior Secretary

Mar 1, 2017

Montana’s former Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke is now President Donald Trump's secretary of the Interior.

Zinke sailed through his Senate confirmation vote today with a 68 to 31 vote. Both Montana senators, Republican Steve Daines and Democrat Jon Tester, supported Zinke's confirmation.

On the Senate floor Wednesday, Daines said Zinke will strike an important balance between conservation and responsible energy development:
"And he understands better than anybody I know that the one-size-fits-all policies of Washington D.C. never work for real America."

Zinke's critics, like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, don't see it that way. Schumer Wednesday accused Zinke of supporting public land transfers and expanding drilling and mining on federal lands and waters:

"Congressman Zinke says he's a dyed-in-the-wool conservationist, but doesn't have the record to back it up. That should concern every outdoor enthusiast and every lover of our great and grand national parks," Schumer said.

Zinke endorsed Donald Trump as a candidate a couple of months before his party nominated him for President, and shares the new administration's goal of increased domestic energy production.

Zinke's confirmation sets up a May 25 special election in Montana to fill his congressional seat. Montana's political parties have scheduled conventions to nominate candidates to run for the seat -- Democrats on March 5, and Republicans on March 6, both in Helena.

You can see a list of the candidates vying for their party's nomination here.