The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved President Obama’s pick of REI Chief Executive Sally Jewell to lead the Interior Department, sending the nomination to the full Senate for consideration. Unlike other Obama Cabinet nominees that have faced resistance during the confirmation process, Jewell sailed through the committee with a 19-3 vote. Republicans Mike Lee of Utah, Tim Scott of South Carolina and John Barrasso of Wyoming opposed her nomination.
Barrasso had questioned Jewell doggedly during the confirmation hearing a few weeks ago about her service on the board of the National Parks Conservation Assn., an environmental group, an affiliation he cited in his decision to reject the nomination.
“NPCA has frequently sued the federal government to shut down energy production and has sought aggressive regulations that threaten American jobs,” Barrasso said. “I have asked Ms. Jewell whether she disagrees with NPCA’s positions. She testified that as vice chair she was unaware of the organization’s various positions and thus unable to say what positions she disagrees with. Well, that concerns me.”
The committee’s ranking minority member, Sen.
Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), had threatened to place a hold on Jewell’s nomination because of the Interior Department’s decision to reject a proposal Murkowski favors to build a road through a wildlife refuge in her state to a local airport. But Murkowski eventually backed Jewell after the Interior Department agreed Thursday to review the decision, according to reports.