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December 9, 2016

Rep. McMorris Rodgers considered to oversee nation's lands, natural resources

By: Bobbi Cussins   Comments: 0
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers talks with AWB President Kris Johnson and AWB Vice President for Government Affairs Gary Chandler during a February 2015 meeting at AWB's office in Olympia. (Photo by Brian Mittge / Association of Washington Business)

Eastern Washington's six-term Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers was considered by President-Elect Donald Trump to head the U.S. Department of the of the Interior. She would have replaced fellow Washingtonian and former CEO of REI Sally Jewell.

In the end, Trump appointed U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke from Montana. Zinke, a 55-year-old ex-Navy SEAL commander and recipient of two Bronze Stars for combat missions in Iraq, was a Trump supporter.

He will join Pullman native retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, a who was nominated to serve as U.S. secretary of defense, giving Washington state one of the 16 important cabinet positions within the White House.

And, having a fellow Western-state representative in a key position is a welcome appointment for the Evergreen State that is known for its environmental efforts and abundance of protected federal and tribal lands as well as waterways.

If confirmed by the Senate, Zinke  would lead the 70,000-employee, $12 billion Interior Department, which manages federal lands for both preservation and energy and mineral development, controls offshore drilling and oversees national parks.

McMorris Rodgers will maintain her House Republican leadership position, the fourth-highest position in the caucus.

McMorris Rodgers was first elected to public office in 1994, serving in the Washington State House of Representatives, where she rose to become the House Republican minority leader before running for Congress.

Winning her bid for Congress in 2004, McMorris Rodgers served on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and, as The Wall Street Journal reports, she has spent much of her time on energy and environmental policy focusing on "promoting hydropower, a renewable resource popular in Washington state, where the Grand Coulee Dam is located, the U.S.’s largest hydroelectric power producer."

The secretary of the interior is responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources. The secretary also oversee such agencies as the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Geological Survey and the National Park Service.

Because the policies and activities of the Department of the Interior and many of its agencies have a substantial impact in the western United States, only one of the individuals to hold the office since 1949 is not from a state west of the Mississippi River.

Rodgers issued a statement saying it was an honor to meeting with Trump.

"I'm more energized than ever to continue leading in Congress as we think big, reimagine this government, and put people back at the center of it," she said.