WYOMING – It’s a job that’s come to mark Donald Trump’s presidency—turmoil and turnover have been hallmarks of the Secretary of Interior post and the 45th POTUS just two years into his term. With Trump’s pick and Senate confirmation yesterday (by a vote of 56-41) of ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt to head the Department of the Interior, controversy again shrouds the administration.
Ryan Zinke had been one of the few high-ranking cabinet members to stick around for any measurable amount of time as Trump’s pick for Secretary. That ended first thing in 2019 when Zinke announced he would resign after a polemic run at the job.
Enter Bernhardt, and if Zinke had a target on his back, Trump’s newest post revved up whole new firing squad. Western Values Project executive director Chris Saeger called Bernhardt the most conflict-ridden cabinet nominee yet.
“President Trump and his allies in the Senate are turning back the clock to a time when land barons again rule the departments that are supposed to hold them accountable. Those special interests and corporate lobbyists now have their man at the helm of America’s largest land managing agency in former mega-lobbyist David Bernhardt,” Saeger said.
Wyoming’s lone House rep Liz Cheney says Bernhardt will protect and preserve the state’s western lifestyle.
“Secretary David Bernhardt’s years of experience working on energy, public land, and natural resource issues in the West, including his time at the Department of the Interior during the Bush-Cheney Administration, makes him exceptionally qualified to lead the department,” Cheney said. “While serving as Deputy Secretary, Bernhardt focused on rolling back regulations, reducing unnecessary government overhead and improving land management. He has been instrumental in restoring local voices in management decisions and expediting the permitting process for ranchers, sportsmen, and operators in Wyoming. I congratulate him on his confirmation and am pleased to continue working with him in his new role to protect and preserve our western way of life.”
Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso both voted for Bernhardt as did every Republican Senator in Congress. Three Democrats also voted for the new Secretary.
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