Good news out of our nation’s cap­i­tal for a change: The Unit­ed States Sen­ate, by a vote of eighty-sev­en to eleven, has vot­ed to con­firm Wash­ing­ton’s own Sal­ly Jew­ell as Amer­i­ca’s next Sec­re­tary of the Interior.

Jew­ell, a long­time Ever­green State busi­ness leader, is the out­go­ing chief exec­u­tive offi­cer of Recre­ation­al Equip­ment Incor­po­rat­ed, bet­ter known as REI.

“I am pleased that today the Sen­ate took bipar­ti­san action to con­firm Sal­ly Jew­ell as our next Sec­re­tary of the Inte­ri­or,” Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma said in a state­ment released a few min­utes ago by the White House. “With her exten­sive busi­ness expe­ri­ence, includ­ing her back­ground in the ener­gy sec­tor, along with her life­long com­mit­ment to con­ser­va­tion, Sal­ly is the right per­son for this impor­tant job.”

“She brings an impor­tant mix of strong man­age­ment skills, appre­ci­a­tion for our nation’s tra­di­tion of pro­tect­ing our pub­lic lands and her­itage, and a keen under­stand­ing of what it means to be good stew­ards of our nat­ur­al resources.”

“Sally’s com­mit­ment to ener­gy and cli­mate issues, her belief in our strong gov­ern­ment-to-gov­ern­ment rela­tion­ship with Indi­an Coun­try, and her under­stand­ing of the inher­ent link between con­ser­va­tion and good jobs ensure that she will be an excep­tion­al Sec­re­tary of the Inte­ri­or,” the Pres­i­dent added.

“I am very glad she is join­ing my team, and I look for­ward to her coun­sel on these impor­tant issues, as we con­tin­ue to lever­age our nat­ur­al resources respon­si­bly while pro­tect­ing our nation’s trea­sures for gen­er­a­tions to come.”

The board of REI also issued a state­ment prais­ing the con­fir­ma­tion vote.

“Speak­ing on behalf of REI’s board and staff, we thank Sal­ly for her sev­en­teen years of ser­vice to the co-op and wish her all the best with her new adven­ture in the ‘oth­er Wash­ing­ton’,” said Bri­an Unmacht, REI’s Inter­im CEO.

“Thanks to her out­stand­ing lead­er­ship, REI is in strong shape and well-posi­tioned for the future. As she did at REI, Sal­ly Jew­ell will lead the Inte­ri­or depart­ment with integri­ty, bal­ance and wisdom.””

Jew­ell suc­ceeds Col­orado’s Ken Salazar as the fifty-first Sec­re­tary of the Interior.

The Pacif­ic North­west del­e­ga­tion vot­ed unan­i­mous­ly to con­firm Jew­ell. The roll call for our region was as fol­lows:

Vot­ing Aye: Democ­rats Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Mur­ray (WA), Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (OR), Jon Tester and Max Bau­cus (MT), Mark Begich (AK); Repub­li­cans Jim Risch and Mark Crapo (ID), Lisa Murkows­ki (AK)

Vot­ing Nay: None

Although no sen­a­tors from the Pacif­ic North­west vot­ed against Jew­ell’s nom­i­na­tion, eleven spite­ful Repub­li­cans from out­side the region refused to make Jew­ell’s con­fir­ma­tion vote unan­i­mous. These Repub­li­cans were:

  • Bar­ras­so (R‑WY)
  • Sax­by Cham­b­liss (R‑GA)
  • Tom Coburn (R‑OK)
  • Mike Enzi (R‑WY)
  • Deb Fis­ch­er (R‑NE)
  • Mike Johanns (R‑NE)
  • Mike Lee (R‑UT)
  • Mitch McConnell (R‑KY)
  • Mar­co Rubio (R‑FL)
  • Tim Scott (R‑SC)
  • David Vit­ter (R‑LA)

Not sur­pris­ing­ly, these eleven are some of the U.S. Sen­ate’s most con­ser­v­a­tive mem­bers. Five of them are from states east of the Mis­sis­sip­pi Riv­er. Sen­a­tors from the con­ser­v­a­tive Mid­west and the swing Rocky Moun­tain states were most­ly behind Jew­ell, with the prin­ci­pal excep­tion of the Wyoming and Nebras­ka delegations.

Con­sid­er­ing how often Repub­li­cans vote against Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s nom­i­nees, it’s impres­sive that Sal­ly Jew­ell gar­nered the votes of most of the Sen­ate Repub­li­can cau­cus. Now that she is con­firmed, she can assume her new position.

Agen­cies Jew­ell will over­see include the Nation­al Park Ser­vice, Bureau of Recla­ma­tion, U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Ser­vice, the Bureau of Indi­an Affairs, and the recent­ly-cre­at­ed Bureau of Ocean Ener­gy Management.

Sal­ly Jew­ell is the sec­ond Wash­ing­ton­ian to serve as Sec­re­tary of the Inte­ri­or; the first was Richard Achilles Ballinger, who served under Pres­i­dent Taft more than a cen­tu­ry ago. (Ballinger was once the may­or of Seat­tle). One Ore­gon­ian (Dou­glas McK­ay) and two Ida­hoans (Cecil Andrus, Dirk Kempthorne) have also served as Sec­re­taries of the Inte­ri­or dur­ing the past century.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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