Rep. Ryan Zinke overcame a key procedural hurdle on the Senate floor Monday evening, getting him one step closer to becoming President Trump’s first secretary of the interior.
The full Senate voted to end debate on the former Republican congressman from Montana to head the Interior Department. That sets up 30 hours of debate on Zinke’s nomination, which will be followed by a mid-week confirmation vote.
As interior secretary, Zinke will oversee energy development on federal lands and waters, the protection of endangered species and the operation of the country’s national parks.
The 67-31 vote in favor of Zinke was not expected to be particularly constrained or controversial. Many Democrats said they believed they could work with him, although his views on climate change weren’t completely in line with their own.
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Four Democrats voted with every Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last month to approve his confirmation at the committee level before moving to the floor. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon abstained from voting for him last month.
The biggest sticking point for Democrats is President Trump’s focus on fossil fuel development on federal lands, including coal development to support his infrastructure and job development goals.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, the top Democrat from Washington on the Senate energy committee, said the “Trump administration has made it clear it wants to pursue an aggressive energy development agenda undoing reasonable protections on environmentally sensitive lands and waters.”
Cantwell told Zinke at a confirmation hearing that “I know you want to be a Teddy Roosevelt kind of secretary of interior, but right now you’re working with an administration who, in their own infrastructure bill, say they’re going to pay for it by oil and gas on federal lands. I don’t know where that stops.”
This post originally appeared on Washington Examiner