Zinke’s confirmation as Interior secretary abruptly postponed

U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke (R-MT) arrives for a meeting with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 12, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Missoula Current

The U.S. Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee abruptly, and indefinitely, postponed its scheduled vote Tuesday on the confirmation of Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to lead the Interior and Energy departments.

The committee’s announcement came in a terse notice on its website and did not include an explanation for the postponement.

It said merely that committee chairman Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, and ranking minority member Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, announced postponement of Tuesday’s business meeting “until further notice.”

That morning session was to have included votes on President Donald Trump’s nomination of Zinke and Perry to lead the two signature federal departments that report to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Zinke, just sworn in to his second term as Montana’s lone member of the U.S. House, appeared to have sailed through his confirmation hearing last week, telling committee members he opposes the sell-off of public lands, wants to increase energy exploration and development and does not believe climate change is a “hoax.”

Perry has had a more controversial go with his nomination as Energy secretary, owing largely to his proclamation during a run for the Republican presidential nomination that the department should be abolished.

He has since walked back from those comments.

Watch this story for updates later today, as they are available.