Senate confirms one Trump Interior pick, but vote on controversial nominee awaits

Senate confirms one Trump Interior pick, but vote on controversial nominee awaits
© Courtesy Rob Wallace

The Senate late Thursday night approved a Trump Interior Department nominee that has proven popular with Democrats and Republicans.

Rob Wallace is the first assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks since 2011, a position that oversees both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.

Wallace stood out in his confirmation process after a long line of controversial picks to a department that has faced numerous ethics controversies since President TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE took office. 

“Rob has the right experience and real commitment to serve in this important role,” Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoOvernight Defense: GOP wary of action on Iran | Pence says US 'locked and loaded' to defend allies | Iran's leader rules out talks with US GOP senator: Iran is behind attack on Saudi Arabia House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge MORE (R-Wyo.) said of the Wyoming native. “He will do an outstanding job. He has worked to conserve wildlife and protect our national parks in both Wyoming and Washington.”

Wallace currently works as president of the Upper Green River Conservancy and as a partner at the investment firm i2Capital.

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Some environmental groups raised questions about Wallace’s nearly two decades as a lobbyist for General Electric Energy and income from stock in the oil industry, but many conservation groups offered letters in support of his nomination. 

The Senate also confirmed Aimee Jorjani to a post on the the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Like Wallace, Jorjani received words of praise from Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee

Her husband, Daniel Jorjani, has also been nominated to a position at Interior reviewed by that committee, but he does not enjoy bipartisan support.

Daniel Jorjani, currently the top lawyer for Interior, has been nominated to fill the vacant role as solicitor for the department.  

But he has been criticized by Democrats for his role in Interior’s controversial public records review process and responses to questions about it they said lacked candor.

“The solicitor must uphold the law above all else about, above party politics and ideology. That was not the sense I got” about Jorjani, said Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinKavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Democrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Senate Democrats to hold the floor to protest inaction on gun violence MORE (D-W.Va.), the committee’s ranking Democrat.

Daniel Jorjani was voted out of the committee Thursday after the committee re-did the vote to cover procedural grounds. It’s not yet clear when his nomination may reach the Senate floor.

Also advanced out of committee was Mark Lee Greenblatt, who has been nominated to take over Interior’s Office of Inspector General and would take over investigations that likely involve Jorjani