President Donald Trump has yet to name his pick to replace Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior, but one of the individuals under consideration could bring a new kind of conservatism to the post as co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus and advocate for states rights in the West, where the federal government owns millions of acres of land.
Raul Labrador (R-ID), who is leaving his House seat after an unsuccessful bid to become governor of Idaho, has been in talks with the White House about his possible nomination to run Interior, which through its Bureau of Land Management is responsible for 258 million acres of public land, mostly in the western U.S. and Alaska.
Labrador has been a strong supporter of the president on a range of issues, from repealing and replacing Obamacare to securing the U.S. border, including as a co-author of Securing America’s Future Act, which Trump endorsed.
“Rep. Labrador shares the President’s agenda on Interior issues, and his eight years on the Natural Resources Committee gives him a great background to deal with those issues,” Todd Winer, communications director for Labrador told Breitbart News. “Rep. Labrador is committed to doing everything he can to make the president even more successful.”
Labrador, who was born in Puerto Rico, comes from a state that is highly affected by decisions made by the federal agency, with some 63 percent of the land in Idaho owned by the government.
Labrador was also interviewed for the Interior post ahead of Zinke’s eventual nomination, according to staff.
News outlets are naming other individuals who are being considered to replace Zinke, including Bloomberg, which reported outgoing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Nevada Senator Dean Heller, and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), who currently heads the House Natural Resources committee, are on the list.
Bishop, who is retiring from Congress in 2020, “has an interest in the opportunity to pursue the Trump administration’s continued leadership on energy dominance, reorganization of BLM, and access to public lands,” his spokeswoman Kristina Baum said by email to Bloomberg.
The Hill also reported on potential picks for the Interior post, including Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
“But in announcing Zinke’s exit, Trump didn’t say the deputy secretary would be in charge of the agency and its 70,000 employees,” the Hill reported.
The Hill reported former Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) is “openly vying for the spot.”
“Yes, it is a position I’m interested in,” Lummis told the Hill.
“I have always prioritized natural resources policy,” she said, adding that solutions are needed to address “these catastrophic wildfires we’ve seen in California and elsewhere.”
Idaho’s outgoing Republican governor Butch Otter is also on the list, according to the Hill.
“Otter has routinely dealt with public land issues, including a signature good neighbor agreement that allows Idaho to work with the National Forest Service to expand the agency’s capacity to work on forest health,” the Hill reported.
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