After overcoming a simple majority vote on Monday night, U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, a Republican from Whitefish, is poised for confirmation as secretary of the Interior Department and positioned to become the first Montanan appointed to a presidential cabinet.
Monday’s vote of 67-31 cleared the way for the U.S. Senate to conduct a final floor hearing on Wednesday morning.
According to U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, who will deliver remarks immediately before the vote, the historic confirmation will take place at 8:30 a.m. Montana Standard Time.
Zinke is not considered a prominent target for Democrats, and his nomination easily passed through the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee after he picked up support from numerous Democrats.
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, praised Zinke ahead of Monday’s initial vote for his willingness to break with his party and oppose large-scale sales of federal lands.
“I feel confident that Congressman Zinke will handle issues before him with Montana common sense,” he said.
Once Zinke is confirmed, he will resign from his position as Montana’s congressman and a special election to fill the vacant seat will take place in 85 to 100 days.
Meanwhile, the state Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties each will nominate candidates to run in the special election.