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Senate to vote on David Bernhardt’s confirmation as Interior Secretary

The Senate has confirmed David Bernhardt as Secretary of the Interior. Bernhardt has been acting in the role since early 2019, when Ryan Zinke, the former secretary, left the administration.

President Trump announced that he would nominate Bernhardt as Interior secretary in early February, and his nomination was officially transmitted to the Senate in early March. The post requires Senate confirmation.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee considered the nomination at a hearing on March 28 and voted on April 4. Bernhardt’s nomination was advanced to the Senate floor, with 14 committee members in favor and six opposed. The full Senate is expected to vote on the nomination this week.

Bernhardt most recently served as the department’s deputy secretary, after being confirmed by the Senate in 2017. He previously served at the Department of Interior from 2001 to 2009 in a variety of roles. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate as the department’s solicitor in 2006, having previously served as deputy solicitor. He also served the department as the deputy chief of staff and director of congressional and legislative affairs.

Between his two stints at Interior, Bernhardt led the natural resources department at the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP. His work there has generated concerns among members of Congress about potential conflicts of interest, as his clients were often involved in legal and policy issues that fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior.

The Energy and Natural Resources Committee also approved the nomination of Susan Combs to be assistant secretary of policy, management and budget at Interior. Combs was first nominated in July 2017 and has been re-nominated twice. She served the department in several acting roles while awaiting confirmation. Her nomination also awaits a vote in the full Senate.