President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Montana Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke to be the next secretary of the Department of Interior, Trump advisers told the media on Tuesday.
However, there has yet to be an official announcement because Zinke has yet to officially accept the nomination. According to Politico, Republicans have been discussing the idea of having Zinke run for the Senate in 2018 — a likely cause for his slow acceptance.
He reportedly flew to New York late Tuesday to meet with the Trump team once again, where he was expected to accept the nod. Other House Republicans, including Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) and Raul Labrador (Idaho), were in contention for the job and met with Trump on Monday.
Trump's senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, confirmed Tuesday night on Fox News that Trump did, indeed, offer Zinke the position.
"Today, the president-elect offered the spot to congressman Zinke," she said. "It was a very competitive process and wonderful candidates."
Zinke was an early, and prominent, supporter of Trump, despite the heat that he regularly received for backing the controversial Republican candidate. He first backed Trump in May.
More from Politico:
Out of all the Republicans on the Hill, Zinke has one of the strongest track records on conservation and public land issues — and he's even voted against his own party at times. He voted against the GOP’s fiscal 2016 budget because it sold public lands, and even resigned as a delegate to the RNC this summer because the party platform included language calling for the sale of public lands.
Zinke has also opposed efforts by House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) to transfer land and other GOP measures to hand over millions of acres of public land from the U.S. Forest Service to the state.
He’s also partnered with Democrats on conservation issues: In October 2015 he was the only Republican to support a Democratic amendment to permanently authorize the so-called Land and Water Conservation Fund. He’s also received praise from conservation groups, including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Teddy Roosevelt Conservancy Partnership, Friends of the East Rosebud and the Outdoor Industry Association.
As interior secretary, Zinke would oversee about one-fifth of the nation's land, which includes: national parks, Indian tribal land, drilling areas, wildlife refuges, mining areas, areas for wind and solar energy development, and gas and oil pipelines. As a conservative, Zinke would likely lift limits on offshore drilling, stop the targeting of fracking and allow new coal land leases.
And on climate change, Zinke isn't likely to make liberals happy either. But while Zinke doesn't think that human-caused climate change is a "hoax," he doesn't believe it to be true, either.
Zinke, 55, is an avid fisherman and hunter who sits on the House Natural Resources Committee. He studied geology as an undergraduate at the University of Oregon before joining the Navy in 1986. He would later go on to become a Navy SEAL Team Commander before leaving the military in 2008 to begin a career in politics.