May 22, 2019

Senate Panel Approves Two Of Trump's Interior Nominees | Bloomberg

A Senate committee easily cleared two of President Donald Trump’s picks for high-level positions at the Interior Department May 21.

The nominations of Daniel Jorjani for Interior solicitor and Mark Lee Greenblatt for the department’s inspector general now go to the full Republican-controlled Senate, which is expected to approve them.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved Jorjani on a party-line 11-10 vote. Greenblatt, a less objectionable nominee to Democrats, was approved on a unanimous voice vote.

In their new roles, Jorjani would become Interior’s top lawyer, and Greenblatt would be responsible for investigating and evaluating the department’s operations. Greenblatt is currently the assistant inspector general for investigations at the Commerce Department.

Jorjani is a longtime Interior official who has been acting in the job for which he has been nominated. Democrats raised a series of concerns about his nomination, focused on his interactions with lawmakers and his legal beliefs.

Democrats Criticize Jorjani

Immediately following the vote, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said Jorjani had responded to his requests for information by “telling me to ask somebody else,” which Wyden said he’d never experienced before.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the panel’s top Democrat, said that he couldn’t support Jorjani in part because he wasn’t satisfied by his answers to Manchin’s various questions during a May 2 hearing on the nominations. At that hearing, Manchin suggested that Jorjani was led by “political ideology” in overturning long-settled, well-reasoned legal opinions rendered by his Interior successors on topics such as public land use and endangered species.

Later in the May 2 hearing, Wyden pointed to a private email that he said implies Jorjani prioritizes the administration’s interests ahead of those of the American public.

Jorjani defended himself against the accusations, saying May 2 that he brings more than 20 years of experience to the job, including 10 at Interior—more than any previous nominee for the solicitor job.

During the earlier hearing, he also said he was unaware of any particular industries that have benefited from his decisions as principal deputy solicitor, and argued his decisions had a strong legal grounding. He said the email to which Wyden was referring was taken out of context.

During the May 2 hearing, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the panel’s chairman, said Jorjani “clearly knows the issues, and is demonstrating he can do the job.”


By:  Stephen Lee