Tester launches portal seeking feedback on Trump nominees
Sen. Jon Tester on Thursday launched a new portal on his website, enabling Montanans to post questions and comments regarding President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees.
On Thursday, Trump officially selected Rep. Ryan Zinke as the next secretary of the interior. Last week, he chose Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Both nominees have Montana climate and public lands groups concerned, and they’ve urged Tester and Sen. Steve Daines to take action.
Over the next few weeks, Tester said, it’s expected that Trump will nominate 15 people to head up executive departments, and dozens of others to lower spots in his administration.
Those nominees are expected to come before the Senate in 2017 for a hearing and a vote.
“In the coming weeks and months, I will be thoroughly reviewing the resumes of dozens of nominees to ensure they understand the issues that matter to Montana,” said Tester. “It’s my hope that folks from across Big Sky Country will join me in asking these potential leaders tough questions to ensure they are fully prepared to lead our state and nation.”
The following is a list of Republicans that Trump has selected for top jobs in his administration, according to Reuters.
All the posts but those of national security adviser, the White House chief of staff, White House director of the National Economic Council and White House strategist require Senate confirmation:
U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: JEFF SESSIONS
Sessions, 69, was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump’s presidential bid and has been a close ally since. Son of a country store owner, the Alabama senator and former federal prosecutor has long taken a tough stance on illegal immigration, opposing any path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
CIA DIRECTOR: MIKE POMPEO
U.S. Representative Pompeo, 52, is a third-term congressman from Kansas who serves on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which oversees the CIA, National Security Agency and cyber security. A retired Army officer and Harvard Law School graduate, Pompeo supports the U.S. government’s sweeping collection of Americans’ communications data and wants to scrap the nuclear deal with Iran.
COMMERCE SECRETARY: WILBUR ROSS
Ross, 79, heads the private equity firm W.L. Ross & Co. His net worth was pegged by Forbes at about $2.9 billion. A staunch supporter of Trump and an economic adviser, Ross helped shape the Trump campaign’s views on trade policy. He blames the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, which went into force in 1994, and the 2001 entry of China into the World Trade Organization, for causing massive U.S. factory job losses.
DEFENSE SECRETARY: JAMES MATTIS
Mattis is a retired Marine general known for his tough talk, distrust of Iran and battlefield experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. A former leader of Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East and South Asia, Mattis, 66, is known by many U.S. forces by his nickname “Mad Dog.” He was once rebuked for saying in 2005: “It’s fun to shoot some people.”
EDUCATION SECRETARY: BETSY DEVOS
DeVos, 58, is a billionaire Republican donor, a former chair of the Michigan Republican Party and an advocate for the privatization of education. As chair of the American Federation for Children, she has pushed at the state level for vouchers that families can use to send their children to private schools and for the expansion of charter schools.
ENERGY SECRETARY: RICK PERRY
Perry, 66, adds to the list of oil drilling advocates skeptical about climate change who have been picked for senior positions in Trump’s Cabinet. The selections have worried environmentalists but cheered an oil and gas industry eager for expansion. Perry, who also briefly ran in the 2016 presidential race, would have to be confirmed by the Senate to head the Energy Department, which is responsible for U.S. energy policy and oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons program.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY ADMINISTRATOR: SCOTT PRUITT
An ardent opponent of President Barack Obama’s measures to stem climate change, Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt, 48, has enraged environmental activists. But he fits with the president-elect’s promise to cut the agency back and eliminate regulation that he says is stifling oil and gas drilling. Pruitt became the top state prosecutor for Oklahoma, which has extensive oil reserves, in 2011, and has challenged the EPA multiple times since.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: TOM PRICE
U.S. Representative Price, 62, is an orthopedic surgeon who heads the House Budget Committee. A representative from Georgia since 2005, Price has criticized Obamacare and has championed a plan of tax credits, expanded health savings accounts and lawsuit reforms to replace it. He is opposed to abortion.
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: JOHN KELLY
The final leadership role of Kelly’s 45-year career was head of the U.S. Southern Command, responsible for U.S. military activities and relationships in Latin America and the Caribbean. The 66-year-old retired Marine general differed with Obama on key issues and has warned of vulnerabilities along the United States’ southern border with Mexico.
HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY: BEN CARSON
Carson, 65, is a retired neurosurgeon who dropped out of the Republican presidential nominating race in March and threw his support to Trump. A popular writer and speaker in conservative circles, Carson previously indicated reluctance to take a position in the incoming administration because of his lack of experience in the federal government. Carson is the first African-American picked for a Cabinet spot by Trump.
INTERIOR SECRETARY: RYAN ZINKE
Zinke, 55, a first-term Republican representative and a member of the House subcommittee on natural resources, has voted for legislation that would weaken environmental safeguards on public lands. He has taken stances favoring coal, a fossil fuel that suffered during the Obama administration. The League of Conservation Voters, which ranks lawmakers on their environmental record, gave Zinke an extremely low lifetime score of 3 percent.
LABOR SECRETARY: ANDREW PUZDER
Puzder, chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc [APOLOT.UL], which runs the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast-food chains, has been a vociferous critic of government regulation of the workplace and the National Labor Relations Board. Puzder, 66, has argued that higher minimum wages would hurt workers by forcing restaurants to close, and praises the benefits of automation, so his appointment is likely to antagonize organized labor.
NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR: GARY COHN
Cohn, 56, president and chief operating officer of investment bank Goldman Sachs, had widely been considered heir apparent to Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of the Wall Street firm. Trump hammered Goldman and Blankfein during the presidential campaign, releasing a television ad that called Blankfein part of a “global power structure” that had robbed America’s working class.
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: MICHAEL FLYNN
Retired Lieutenant General Flynn, 57, was an early Trump supporter and serves as vice chairman on his transition team. He began his Army career in 1981 and was deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Flynn became head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012 under President Barack Obama but retired a year earlier than expected, according to media reports, and became a fierce critic of Obama’s foreign policy.
SECRETARY OF STATE: REX TILLERSON
Tillerson, 64, has spent his entire career at Exxon Mobil Corp, where he rose to serve as its chairman and CEO in 2006. A civil engineer by training, the Texan joined the world’s largest energy company in 1975 and led several of its operations in the United States as well as in Yemen, Thailand and Russia. As Exxon’s chief executive, he maintained close ties with Moscow and opposed U.S. sanctions against Russia for its incursion into Crimea.
SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION ADMINISTRATOR: LINDA MCMAHON
McMahon, 68, is a co-founder and former chief executive of the professional wrestling franchise WWE, which is based in Stamford, Connecticut. She ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut in 2010 and 2012, and was an early supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign.
TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: ELAINE CHAO
Chao, 63, was labor secretary under President George W. Bush for eight years and the first Asian-American woman to hold a Cabinet position. She is a director at Ingersoll Rand, News Corp and Vulcan Materials Company. She is married to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky.
TREASURY SECRETARY: STEVEN MNUCHIN
Mnuchin, 53, is a successful private equity investor, hedge fund manager and Hollywood financier who spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs before leaving in 2002. He assembled an investor group to buy a failed California mortgage lender in 2009, rebranded it as OneWest Bank and built it into Southern California’s largest bank. Housing advocacy groups criticized the bank for its foreclosure practices, accusing it of being too quick to foreclose on struggling homeowners.
U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: NIKKI HALEY
Haley, 44, has been the Republican governor of South Carolina since 2011 and has little experience in foreign policy or the federal government. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she led a successful push last year to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol after the killing of nine black churchgoers in Charleston by a white gunman.
WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: REINCE PRIEBUS
Recently re-elected to serve as Republican National Committee chairman, Priebus will give up his party post to join Trump in the White House, where the low-key Washington operative could help forge ties with Congress to advance Trump’s agenda. The 44-year-old was a steadfast supporter of Trump during the presidential campaign even as the party fractured amid the choice.
CHIEF WHITE HOUSE STRATEGIST, SENIOR COUNSELOR: STEVE BANNON
The former head of the conservative website Breitbart News came aboard as Trump’s campaign chairman in August. A rabble-rousing conservative media figure, he helped shift Breitbart into a forum for the alt-right, a loose confederation of those who reject mainstream politics and includes neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites. His hiring signals Trump’s dedication to operating outside the norms of Washington. As White House chief of staff, Bannon, 63, will serve as Trump’s gatekeeper and agenda-setter.