Energy & Environment

Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior

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The Senate confirmed President Biden’s pick for the No. 2 role at the Interior Department on Thursday with broad bipartisan support, but opposition from one progressive and a handful of Republicans.

Senators voted 88-9 to confirm Tommy Beaudreau as deputy Interior Secretary, with eight Republicans and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) opposing the nomination.

Sanders’s office told The Hill that the senator voted against Beaudreau because of his ties to oil companies.

Beaudreau has come under criticism from progressive groups for working with companies like French oil giant Total and multinational mining company BHP.

President Biden nominated Beaudreau after pulling back his previous nominee, Elizabeth Klein, amid reported opposition from Senate moderates.

Moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, praised Beaudreau in a floor speech ahead of Thursday’s vote.

“His performance at his nomination hearing demonstrated that he has both a firm grasp of the issues and the ability to listen, learn and work with all sides and to find common sense solutions to difficult problems,” Manchin said.

“Mr. Beaudreau fully understands the role of the Department of the Interior in striking the balance in its dual mission of preserving and protecting our national parks and public lands and providing a large part of the energy and mineral resources that we need to power the nation,” he added.

He’s a lawyer and former Obama administration official who has previously held several roles at the Interior Department. 

He also served as the first director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Interior chief of staff and acting assistant secretary for land and minerals management.

In his new role, he’ll help oversee the entire department alongside Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

During his confirmation hearing, he said that having served in government, he’s “accepting of the scrutiny and criticism that comes with holding these roles,” when asked about scrutiny from progressives. 

He added that he’s “a little bewildered” by some of the criticism because of “what I believe was a very strong track record during the Obama administration on conservation,” as well as what he described as his “tough but … fair-minded” reputation as a regulator.

The eight Republicans who voted against his confirmation were Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Josh Hawley (Mo.), John Kennedy (La.), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.).

Updated at 2:39 p.m.

Tags Bernie Sanders Biden nominee confirmation vote Dan Sullivan Deb Haaland Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Kennedy Josh Hawley Mike Lee Oil companies Rand Paul Richard Shelby Senate confirmation Ted Cruz
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