The lone congressman from Montana is being offered the chance to lead the Department of the Interior Tuesday by President-elect Donald J. Trump, according to multiple media reports.
A retired Navy commander, who commanded SEALs and other special operations forces in Iraq, Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke met with the president-elect Monday.
On Monday’s conference call with reporters, Jason Miller, a spokesman for the Presidential Transition Team, said Zinke was a strong candidate for joining the Trump cabinet.
“Congressman Ryan Zinke from Montana. Congressman Zinke was an early Trump supporter,” Miller said.
“His background includes time in the Montana senate and 22 years as a Navy SEAL. Congressman Zinke is a strong advocate for American energy independence and he supports an all-encompassing energy policy that includes renewables, fossil fuels, and alternative energy,” he said.
Miller added, “Zinke believes we need to find a way to cut through bureaucracy to ensure our nation’s parks, forests, and other public areas are properly maintained and used effectively.”
The man Zinke replaced in the House, Sen. Steven D. Daines (R.-Mont.), Tweeted out his support for the Zinke pick:
.@RepRyanZinke protected us abroad and in combat and I know he will do the same for our treasured public lands as Secretary of the Interior.
— Steve Daines (@SteveDaines) December 13, 2016
Theresa Pierno, the president and CEO of National Parks Conservation Association said:
For the last 100 years, Americans have visited and explored our national parks, stunning landscapes and rich pieces of our history set aside for future generations. It is up to all of us to protect our national parks, including the President-elect and his new Interior Secretary. Mr. Zinke has expressed support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, opposes the sale of public lands and has expressed concern over proposed mine development adjacent to Yellowstone. In contrast, Mr. Zinke has advocated for state control of energy development on federal lands, a move that threatens our national parks. Mr. Zinke has also repeatedly voted to block efforts to designate new national parks that would diversify the National Park System.
The League of Conservation Voters, a left-wing lobbying group, gave Zinke a three percent rating on its 2015 scorecard.
Environmentalists might not be pleased with Zinke, but neither has he always voted with conservatives, or even Republicans, since joining the House of Representatives with the class of 2015.
In July, Zinke voted with Democrats to unsuccessfully block a program to transfer federal land to the states.
According to a report in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:
Zinke’s crossover vote comes as the Montana Democratic Party and his opponent in the November election, Denise Juneau, try to pin the congressman to his party’s support for transferring control of federal lands to the states, which, opponents say, is a step toward privatizing public lands.
The day after the vote, Zinke announced that he had resigned his post as a nominating delegate at the Republican National Convention over the GOP’s pro-transfer platform.
“I’ve made it very clear time that I do not support the sale or transfer of federal lands,” Zinke said in an email via his press secretary Monday. “That’s why I broke with a majority of my colleagues…. Our public lands are public for a reason. I do not support any roundabout ways to get rid of the very federal lands that form our Montana way of life.”
Zinke resigned as a delegate to the Republican National Convention, but he and his Spanish-speaking wife were strong supporters and surrogates for the new president.
When the retired Navy SEAL commander endorsed Trump at a May rally in Billings, Montana, the congressman said everyone has a duty to work to turn the country around by supporting the New York City developer. “We rise and fall on the same tide,” he said, adding:
It is time for us all to do our duty and it is time, Montana, to make America great again.
People ask me if Donald Trump will make a great commander-in-chief–well, I’ll tell you what–we need a commander-in-chief, who will put the interests of the United States ahead of the interests of raising money for the Clinton Foundation and we need a commander-in-chief, that will put our troops first and not abandon them in battle as Hillary Clinton did in Benghazi.
We need a commander-in-chief who will kill and capture our enemies, rather than catch and release them at Guantanamo Bay.
The former All-American lineman for the Oregon Ducks, who graduated with a degree in geology, said that, unlike President Barack Obama, Americans need a commander-in-chief who does not fund the nuclear weapons programs of Iran and treats veterans with respect. “We need a commander-in-chief who will put our veterans at the front of the line, rather than having them die in line waiting for health care.”
Zinke wrote about his experiences as a Navy SEAL in a book released in the last week of November, American Commander: Serving a Country Worth Fighting For and Training the Brave Soldiers Who Lead the Way.