U.S. SENATE —Chairman of the Senate Western Caucus, U.S. Senator Steve Daines (MT), today led members of the Senate Western Caucus in demanding U.S. Senate leadership to prioritize confirmation of nominees to the West.
In a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Daines and nine U.S. Senators of the Senate Western Caucus drew attention to the languishing nominations of Susan Combs to be Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at the Department of the Interior (DOI); Jeff Clark to be Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice (DOJ); James Hubbard to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment at the United States Department of Agriculture; and Ryan Nelson to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit.
“A fully staffed administration, especially in these positions, is essential to implementing the objectives of responsible energy and natural resource development, stewardship of our public lands, and creating good-paying jobs that will benefit not only western states, but the U.S. economy as a whole,” the Western Caucus members wrote.
The letter is also signed by Sens. Risch (ID), Hoeven (ND), Lee (UT), McCain (AZ), Gardner (CO), Enzi (WY), Crapo (ID), Inhofe (OK), and Rounds (SD).
A comparison list of nominees through various administrations:
Assistant Secretary, DOI Policy Management and Budget
Susan Combs, Trump Nominee 372 days (pending)
Rhea Suh, Obama Nominee 28 days
Patricia Lynn Scarlett, Bush Nominee 59 days
Bonnie Cohen, Clinton Nominee 41 days
Assistant Attorney General, DOJ Environment and Natural Resources Division
Jeff Clark, Trump Nominee 406 days (pending)
John C. Cruden, Obama Nominee 343 days
Ignacia Moreno, Obama Nominee 150 days
Ronald J. Tenpas, Bush Nominee 192 days
Sue Ellen Wooldridge, Bush Nominee 143 days
Thomas Sansonetti, Bush Nominee 192 days
Lois Jane Schiffer, Clinton Nominee 246 days
Dear Senators McConnell and Schumer:
As members of the Senate Western Caucus, we urge you to continue to prioritize executive nominations important to the West. Specifically, we would like to bring to your attention to two well-qualified nominees. Both have been reported favorably out of the committees of jurisdiction and we ask that you promptly confirm them.
1. Susan Combs, a rancher from Big Bend, Texas, was nominated to be Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at the Department of the Interior (DOI). Ms. Combs has had a long and successful career both in business and in public service, including as a member of the Texas House of Representatives, as Texas’ Agricultural Commissioner, and as Texas’ Comptroller of Public Accounts. During her time as Comptroller, she successfully managed complex tax issues and streamlined bureaucracy to make it both more efficient and more accountable to taxpayers. Her proven management track record in the public and private sectors will be crucial to making DOI more efficient and effective and helping ensure responsible stewardship of western lands. Her nomination has been pending for 372 days, longer than her predecessors in the past 25 years.
2. Jeff Clark was nominated to serve as Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) at the Department of Justice. Mr. Clark has been at the forefront of environmental and natural resources law for over two decades both in private practice and government service. He served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General at ENRD from 2001 to 2005 where he oversaw the defense of a wide range of environmental and natural resource legal positions in appellate courts throughout the country. His service as Deputy Assistant Attorney General gave Mr. Clark the experience needed to collaborate with federal agencies as they develop reform-oriented natural resources and environmental policies. It is imperative that the Justice Department has in place a Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for ENRD to advise other federal departments and agencies on the development of sound land use policies, which primarily affect the West, and to vigorously defend those policies in court when they are challenged. His nomination has been pending for 406 days, longer than his predecessors in the pasty 25 years.
A fully staffed administration, especially in these positions, is essential to implementing the Senate’s bipartisan objectives for responsible energy and natural resource development, stewardship of our public lands, and creating good-paying jobs that will benefit not only western states, but the U.S. economy as a whole.
We would also like to draw your attention to two additional nominees who are still being considered by their respective committees of jurisdiction: James Hubbard from Colorado to serve as United States Department of Agriculture Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment and Ryan Nelson, an Idaho native, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit. We ask that once these two nominations are reported out of committee that you promptly bring their nominations before the full Senate for consideration. Both have extensive experience in their professional fields and the positions to which they are nominated are of key importance to the West.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to working with you to further advance western initiatives.
Press Release from Senator Steve Daines' Office