Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski vowed Thursday to move President Trump's nominee for Interior deputy secretary, David Bernhardt, to a vote as soon as possible, despite opposition raised by Democrats over his past experience.
"I look forward to moving your name quickly through the confirmation process," the Alaska Republican said. "I think Secretary [Ryan] Zinke has a big job in front of him, and he needs a team, and I think you can be a valuable asset."
Murkowski said she would move the nominee forward despite the accusations raised by Democrats at Thursday's confirmation hearing over his ties to fossil fuel and mining companies.
She reminded her colleagues of two past appointees to the Interior Department under the Obama administration with similar backgrounds to Bernhardt's. "Both were confirmed with strong support of members who might otherwise be interested in raising accusations here this morning," she said after a fairly orderly confirmation hearing.
"We don't want to be in a situation where we have two different standards here," Murkowski said. "And I think it's important that if you've got policy disagreements with a nominee, this is the place to bring them up," Murkowski said. "But it's my hope that you're not going to be put to a different standard than past nominees."
Murkowski did not give a timeframe for when the committee will vote on Bernhardt's confirmation.