Senate confirms Trump's nominee for No. 2 Interior post

Senate confirms Trump's nominee for No. 2 Interior post
© Getty
The Senate voted to confirm David Bernhardt to be deputy secretary of the Interior Department. 
The Senate voted 53-43 on Monday evening to confirm him to agency’s No. 2 post. Bernhardt — only the second Interior Department nominee confirmed by the Senate since President Trump took office — will serve under Secretary Ryan Zinke. 
Monday’s vote means Bernhardt will make his return to the Interior Department, an agency where he served as solicitor under President George W. Bush. He was confirmed to that position with a unanimous vote in 2006. 
But Bernhardt’s confirmation process this year was stickier. Democrats raised ethics concerns dating back to his tenure in the Bush administration, and drilled down into his private sector lobbying career, which they warned could undermine his impartiality at Interior.  
Bernhardt’s supporters, though, call him an experienced and knowledgable nominee for the position, noting his work on an array of issues within Interior’s portfolio, including energy development, conservation and tribal affairs. 
“His personal background and public and private professional experiences prove that he is a strong voice for the West, and extremely well-qualified for the nomination to be deputy secretary,” Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Democrats spend big to put Senate in play Republicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial MORE (R-Colo.), a longtime friend of Bernhardt, said during debate over his nomination.
After leaving the Bush administration, Bernhardt worked as chairman of the natural resources law practice at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. Financial disclosure forms show he made at least $1.1 million last year from the firm and his clients, a list that includes more than a dozen companies including energy and mining developers. 
Bernhardt has said he will recuse himself from Interior decisions involving former clients for at least one year. Democratic opponents say he should recuse himself for longer, and many opposed his nomination altogether on conflict of interest grounds. 
"At the agency, he'll be on the other side of the table, and after a short time, be able to make decisions in these areas."
Bernhardt has defended his recusal standard, saying it’s in line with the terms established for other officials 
“If I get a whiff of something coming ... that involves a former client or my firm, I will make that item go straight to the ethics office and whatever they decide, that will be it for me,” Bernhardt said at his confirmation hearing in May. 
“I have signed the exact same agreements my predecessors have, and I will stand by that.”