Zinke blames “the resistance” for his failure to fill open positions

The Interior Secretary has yet to nominate anyone for 10 of 14 Senate-confirmable jobs

In a​n interview with the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal this afternoon, Secretary Zinke blamed “the resistance movement” for the lack of Senate-confirmed positions filled at the Department of Interior. Yet he’s failed to nominate more than half (10 of 14) of the open positions.

Transcript starts at 10:55

Here’s the relevant portion of the interview:

Interviewer: How many openings do you have that you are still trying to fill?
Secretary Zinke: Oh, man. And it has been very frustrating. I would say it is from the resistance movement. At every corner, they try to stop President Trump from winning, and some of their methodologies is to hold back, stop the Senate-confirmed positions, the just simple, you know, positions, getting in the office and doing the work of the people. You look at the problems in the Senate confirmation hearings, I have 17 Senate-confirmed positions. Today, I have three.
Interviewer: So basically, you have 14 that are still on hold?
Secretary Zinke: And that’s just the top-tier Senate-confirmed. Next to it, I still don’t have a director of our parks. I still don’t have a director in the BLM. I still don’t have a director of Fish and Wildlife and parks. And I believe it to be willful and intentional.
Interviewer: For those kind of openings like that, what does that mean for the Park Service, and for the Bureau of Land Management, and all the different areas where there still is that hole, how is that hurting those particular areas?
Secretary Zinke: Well, you know, I’m out in the field talking to our front line superintendents, and all of us in the Park Service, you know, want stability, we want a director. And I’ve chosen an imminently qualified, former superintendent, that’s well-respected, a veteran. There is absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t have been through the system, you know, months ago. But it does, it hurts us all. And I’ve always said, from a military officer and a congressman and a state senator, now a Secretary of the Interior point of view, is that critical things to fund in the government is the military and our park system.

It is true that there are 17 confirmable positions at DOI, three of which have been ​confirmed:

  • Ryan Zinke, Secretary
  • David Bernhardt, Deputy Secretary​
  • Douglas Domenech, Assistant Secretary, Insular Affairs​

The Secretary has nominated an additional four appointees, all of whom have passed through the relevant committee and are on the Senate’s executive calendar. But there’s limited time in the Senate calendar and Senate Majority Leader McConnell has prioritized Obamacare repeal over a timely confirmation process. The four nominees awaiting final confirmation, but held up by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are:

​Secretary Zinke has failed to nominate the remaining 10 Senate confirmed positions at DOI. He even suggests “the resistance” is gumming the works for his director at the Bureau of Land Management, the Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service — but Zinke himself has not nominated anyone for those jobs.

Secretary Zinke and the Trump administration have no one to blame but themselves and their allies in Congress for the dysfunctional nominations process.

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