Energy & Environment

Murkowski’s committee postponed confirmation vote for Trump nominees

Keren Carrion

The committee led by Sen. Lisa Murkowski postponed a vote on six Trump administration nominees on Wednesday, the same day a Cabinet secretary allegedly threatened retribution against the Alaska Republican over her healthcare vote.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee publicized the postponement of the vote, which included three Department of the Interior nominees, shortly after 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke called Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) that afternoon, saying that her vote against debate on the ObamaCare repeal might steer the administration away from policies that benefit her state, the Alaska Dispatch News reported.

{mosads}“I’m not going to go into the details, but I fear that the strong economic growth, pro-energy, pro-mining, pro-jobs and personnel from Alaska who are part of those policies are going to stop,” Sullivan told the newspaper about his call from Zinke.

Murkowski’s staff did not return requests for comment on whether the developments are linked, and the committee has not said why the meeting was postponed.

In addition to leading the committee that oversees nearly all of Interior and confirms its nominees, Murkowski is chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee subpanel that oversees its funding.

Murkowski and other GOP senators have repeatedly criticized Democrats for trying to delay confirmations of Trump administration officials.

The six nominees who would have gotten a vote Thursday morning are Brenda Burman to be commissioner of reclamation at Interior; Susan Combs to be assistant secretary of the Interior for policy, management and budget; Doug Domenech to be assistant secretary of the Interior for insular affairs; Paul Dabbar to be undersecretary for science of the Department of Energy (DOE); David Jonas to be general counsel of the DOE; and Mark Wesley Menezes to be undersecretary of the DOE.

The group had a relatively easy confirmation hearing last week. Each nominee also needs a vote in the full Senate before being sworn in.

Both Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick Perry are the only Senate-confirmed officials at their agencies, more than six months after President Trump’s inauguration.

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