Trump to pick Rep. McMorris Rodgers for Interior secretary

 
Trump will tap McMorris-Rodgers, a five-term Republican who represents eastern Washington and is the chair of the House GOP Conference, to lead the department. The New York Times first reported the news.
 
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McMorris Rodgers is a vice chair of Trump’s transition team and the highest-ranking woman in GOP leadership. She formally met with Trump on Nov. 20. Her office declined to comment Friday. 
 
If confirmed by the Senate, McMorris Rodgers would lead the 70,000-employee, $12 billion Interior Department, which manages federal lands for both preservation and energy and mineral development, controls offshore drilling and oversees national parks.
 
She would be Trump’s point person on public lands energy development, something Trump said he wants to expand as president. 
 
Trump opposes the Obama administration’s moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands and, in a September speech, proposed a “top-down review of all anti-coal regulations issued by the Obama administration,” an effort that would include the Interior Department.   
 
Trump’s transition website said he “will encourage the production of [fossil fuels] by opening onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands and waters.”
 
Trump, though, has professed a view of federal land ownership that is relatively moderate compared to some conservatives. 
 
In a speech this week, he said he would follow the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt and “conserve and protect our beautiful natural resources for the next generation including protecting lands.” 
 
During his presidential campaign, he said he “[doesn’t] like the idea” of transferring federal lands to states because “I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold." 
 
McMorris Rodgers is a booster of hydropower and has pushed legislation to tackle forest fires in the West. 
 
She has voted in favor of expanding fossil fuel development on public lands and in federal areas off-shore. She opposes efforts to change the royalty rates on federal coal mining, something pushed hard by Obama’s Interior Department, and voted for a GOP budget that would allow the sale of public lands to mining companies. 
 
In the past, she has introduced legislation to require congressional approval before the president can designate a national monument, and a bill directing the Bureau of Land Management to release public lands it holds that it has deemed not suitable for wilderness status. 
 
In a 2012 speech to the Society of American Foresters, McMorris Rodgers said, “it is no coincidence that many of the counties with the highest unemployment rates in the country are those which are surrounded by federal forests,” and said the federal government should “undertake a comprehensive review of their land ownership policies.”
 
“By removing lands from private ownership — and thus, from the local municipal tax rolls – the government stifles locally-driven development and makes rural communities more dependent on Washington, DC,” she said then.
 
If the Senate confirms McMorris Rodgers to lead Interior, she will be the second straight Washington state native to lead the department, succeeding outgoing Secretary Sally JewellSally JewellOutdoor gear companies take on Trump Overnight Regulation: Trump administration lifts Obama freeze on federal coal mining Trump administration ends Obama's coal-leasing freeze MORE
 
Her nomination will continue the trend of a western state native leading Interior, a tradition tied to extensive federal land ownership West of the Mississippi River. 
 
McMorris Rogers’ relationship with Trump has morphed over time. 
 
McMorris Rodgers voted for Trump in Washington’s primary election in May, well after he became the GOP’s nominee, but in a Facebook post then, she wrote, “Did I cast my ballot with enthusiasm? Not exactly.”  
 
She condemned Trump for past statements he made about women and people with disabilities, and reiterated those concerns after the October reveal of a tape in which he bragged about groping and kissing women without consent. 
 
McMorris Rogers, a mother of three, convened a meeting with Trump’s daughter Ivanka in September to discuss childcare issues. 
 
And she accepted a position on his transition team, telling Fox News this week that she was “really thrilled“ to work on “the team that is identifying the best and the brightest for President-elect Trump’s consideration.” 
 
Her nomination will set off a scramble for her No. 4 position in House leadership. Because she is the only woman in leadership right now, there will be a desire from Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanOPINION | Healthcare vote a political death wish for GOP in 2018 The one part of ObamaCare that must be repealed now Senate Dems warn they will block recess appointments MORE and leadership to see the GOP conference elect another woman to fill her spot. 
 
 
- Scott Wong contributed
 
- Updated at 1:52 p.m.