Panel approves Obama's Interior pick

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 19-3 Thursday to approve Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellNational parks pay the price for Trump's Independence Day spectacle Overnight Energy: Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone | UN report offers dire climate warning | Trump expected to lift ethanol restrictions Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone MORE, President Obama’s nominee to replace outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Sens. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Senators to meet with Zelensky after impeachment trial GOP senators defend Sondland, Vindman ousters: They weren't 'loyal' MORE (R-Wyo.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottGOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman Tim Scott: Sanders would be toughest challenger for Trump House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime MORE (R-S.C.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' Congress set for clash over surveillance reforms The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE (R-Utah) voted against Jewell, the CEO of outdoor gear giant REI Inc.

While the nomination cleared the panel, a number of GOP senators have not ruled out placing procedural barriers in front of Jewell before her nomination comes before the full Senate.


The vote proceeded after Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump budget includes proposal for US Consulate in Greenland Democrats worried about Trump's growing strength The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE (Alaska), the panel’s top Republican, said she secured an agreement from Salazar to revisit a preliminary decision not to allow a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Murkowski and other Alaskan lawmakers say the road is needed to provide emergency medical access to a small village called King Cove.

While Jewell won a lopsided vote in committee, her bid to run Interior is not in the clear yet.

Interior, under President Obama, has faced frequent pushback from GOP lawmakers in western states, where the department controls huge swaths of land.

Critics say the agency’s policies on energy and species protection too many restrictions on oil-and-gas drilling and other commercial activities — attacks that have swirled around Jewell's nomination.

Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) voted for Jewell Thursday but did not rule out placing a “hold” on her before the nomination reaches the Senate floor, noting he “reserves the right” to do so.

Barrasso, for his part, on Thursday revived criticism of her work on the board of the National Parks Conservation Association and said she has provided incomplete answers to some questions.

“I think many of those answers were incomplete,” Barrasso said. “I fully expect that we want to give the nominee the time that she needs to complete the record.”

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenRussian interference reports rock Capitol Hill McSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign Graham: Trump has 'all the legal authority in the world' to pardon Stone MORE (D-Ore.), the chairman of the panel, applauded Jewell, who worked in the oil and banking industries before leading REI.

“[Sally] is going to give each member of this committee her ear and her expertise that comes from having managed to pack a host of professional careers — petroleum engineer, CEO, and banker, to name just a few — into just one lifetime. I have full confidence in Sally Jewell’s ability to take on this important assignment,” he said.

It is not clear when the full Senate will vote on Jewell, who is expected to ultimately be confirmed.

League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski, in a statement, called for quick confirmation.

He credited President Obama for growing the deployment of green energy and said the president has “protected some of our most cherished landscapes.”

“But there’s a lot more work to do. That’s why we need Sally Jewell leading the Interior Department and working every day to protect public lands and promote conservation,” Karpinski said.

This post was updated at 11:25 a.m.