The Senate confirmed former lobbyist and Interior Department veteran David Bernhardt to serve as the agency’s secretary by a 56-41 vote on Thursday, April 11, Politico reported. Three Democrats: Sens. Joe Manchin, West Virginia; Martin Heinrich, New Mexico; and Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona along with Maine Independent Angus King joined the unified Republican bloc in supporting the nomination.
The American Farm Bureau Federation was pleased with the confirmation, saying the confirmation was “a tribute to the expertise and sound leadership he brings to the office.”
Bernhardt served as Deputy Secretary in 2017. He held several positions within the Interior Department from 2001 to 2009.
“As deputy and acting secretary for the Interior Department, Secretary Bernhardt reinvigorated multiple-use management of America’s public lands,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “This included regulatory efforts to reform implementation of the Endangered Species Act, streamlining the National Environmental Policy Act, promoting outcome-based grazing across our nation’s rangelands and implementing policies to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in the West.”
The Public Lands Council also praised the nomination, saying it was welcome news for livestock producers.
“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Secretary and are glad he can finally focus on the Department of Interior’s critical work,” said Ethan Lane, senior executive director of the Public Lands Council and NCBA Federal Lands.
Manchin praised Bernhardt in a floor speech, The Hill reported. "I believe Mr. Bernhardt is clearly qualified to serve as secretary. He knows the Interior Department inside and out and he is well versed on all the issues that come before it. He clearly has the knowledge and experiences to serve as secretary."
But Bernhardt’s confirmation isn’t without controversy.
“David Bernhardt is a walking conflict of interest who is selling out our public lands to his former clients in the fossil fuel industry,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, in an article in The Guardian.
Bernhardt did set a new record, The Week notes. He has the highest number of no votes for an Interior Secretary’s confirmation.