Saturday, May 27, 2017

Zinke fills in Interior staff despite key leadership gaps

The Interior Department announced Friday that it is filling in key support staff, while still missing official high-level nominations by President Trump to lead them. The only senior official to be named by the president, other than Secretary Ryan Zinke, is David Bernhardt as deputy secretary, who still needs to be confirmed by the Senate. Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Thursday that she will hold a vote on Berhardt's confirmation at the committee level when the Senate returns after its week-long Memorial Day recess. But then he must be voted on by the full Senate. It has been tough to move political appointees through the Senate, but on top of that Trump has been slow to announce who will fill key posts in many of the offices that Zinke will rely on to move the Trump agenda ahead. The announcements made Friday do not require Senate confirmation. Scott Hommel, a decorated Marine, will serve as Zinke's chief of staff. Caroline Boulton, who served on Zinke's staff when he was a member of Congress, will be Zinke's special assistant, along with Natalie Davis, who served on Trump's inaugural committee. Laura Keehner Rigas, a former official who served under the George W. Bush administration, will be communications director for the agency...more

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