Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s opinion on President-elect Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Interior matters more than most. She is Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which has oversight and confirmation authority over the department and many of their posts.
So it was significant when earlier today Murkowski issued a statement on Trump’s choice of Rep. Ryan Zinke to be the top person at the Department of Interior (DOI).
Here is what she had to say:
“I welcome the President-elect’s nomination of Rep. Ryan Zinke to be Secretary of the Interior. I look forward to meeting with him to discuss a range of critical issues, including the challenges we face on federal management of lands and waters in Alaska, the urgent need to increase energy production in my home state, and our trust responsibilities to Alaska Natives and Native Americans. I am also eager to learn more about Rep. Zinke’s views on the differing roles of state and federal regulators on public lands, how he would restore balance to the multiple use of federal lands, and how he would approach federal lands transactions. We plan to consider his nomination at a hearing before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in early January.”
The first thing we noticed about the statement is that Senator’s staff must have a nomination template in the office. Her thoughts on Zinke are structured remarkably similar to those she offered about Trump’s Secretay of Energy nominee Gov. Rick Perry. That is except for the fact that in Perry’s case the Senator included a line indicating the views Perry holds that she thinks would make him a good fit for the position.
No such line is included in Zinke’s statement.
Here is Murkowski’s statement on the nomination of Perry for Secretay of Energy:
“I welcome the President-elect’s nomination of former Gov. Rick Perry to be Secretary of Energy. I strongly believe the leadership at this Department should have a broad understanding of the need to increase access to energy, make it more affordable, and improve environmental performance – all key factors that should drive our nation’s innovation policy. As a former governor of Texas, Rick recognizes the economic and security benefits of technology innovation and an energy supply that is diverse, reliable, and affordable. I look forward to meeting with Gov. Perry to discuss a wide range of important issues, including the high cost of energy in Alaska, the United States’ innovation excellence, the future of nuclear energy, LNG exports, and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. I also look forward to learning more about the team he would put in place around him, and to considering his nomination before our committee at a hearing in early January.”
Again, in those cases, someone obviously had a handy-dandy nomination response template hanging around the office. But more notably, Murkowski used glowing language like “great news” to describe those nominations.
Zinke’s statement had no positive language of any kind. Murkowski appears to be genuine when she said she has questions about Zinke’s positions on an array of issues and is going to make him explain himself to get her support.
At this point, it looks like this is one nomination that won’t be getting rubber stamped.