Senate committee approves Obama’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior

President Barack Obama’s nominee to take over the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) passed the first hurdle on her way to confirmation with a 19-3 bipartisan vote in her favor.

Sally Jewell, president and CEO of the Seattle-based outdoor equipment company Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), would take over for current Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who announced his decision to leave the agency in January.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Jewell’s varied background is what makes her an appealing candidate for the position. Before coming to REI, Jewell spent nearly two decades in the commercial banking industry with stops in Oklahoma and Colorado with Mobil Oil.

Jewell has never served as an elected official, though she has twice been appointed to the University of Washington’s Board of Regents by the state’s governor, and she holds a number of positions on other corporate and non-profit boards, including the National Parks Conservation Association.

Jewell also received conservative support as Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska — the committee’s senior Republican — also gave her support.

The full Senate has yet to set a date for full consideration of Jewell’s nomination, though sources report that it could be brought to the floor shortly after the Easter recess.


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