Senate moves closer to confirming Interior deputy

Senate moves closer to confirming Interior deputy
© Getty

The Senate is one step closer to a vote to confirm David Bernhardt to be deputy secretary of the Interior.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump backers eye GOP primary challenges for Flake, Heller Senate spending plan boosts House moderates Cruz: Tax reform chances ‘drop significantly’ if healthcare fails MORE (R-Ky.) filed cloture on the nomination on Monday, putting the chamber on a path toward a likely procedural vote on Wednesday, followed by up to 30 hours of debate before a final vote.

Bernhardt would be the second nominee at Interior to get a confirmation vote, following Secretary Ryan Zinke.

ADVERTISEMENT
Bernhardt is currently an attorney at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, where he leads the natural resources practice and has represented numerous industry clients in energy, water and other fields with business before Interior.

His previous lobbying work there was largely the focus of questions from Democratic senators at his May confirmation hearing. The senators questioned his ability to act impartially as the No. 2 official in charge the bulk of the nation’s public land.

Bernhardt promised senators that he would follow ethics rules regarding recusals from matters involving former clients.

McConnell’s action came days after a plea from the Senate Western Caucus for a vote on Bernhardt. 

“David Bernhardt will be a partner to Montanans and to Secretary Ryan Zinke — which makes for the best kind of deputy secretary of the Interior,” Western Caucus Chairman Steve Daines (R-Mont.) said in a statement.

“David will work to improve access to public lands, restore American energy dominance and empower Montanans' ability to best serve their families and communities. We need to confirm David Bernhardt so he can get to work on behalf of Montanans and the West.”

Bernhardt held numerous positions at Interior under former President George W. Bush, including as its solicitor. He is a native of Colorado.