Tester’s Statement During Zinke Confirmation Hearing for Interior Secretary

(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester today introduced Congressman Ryan Zinke during his confirmation hearing as Secretary of the Department of the Interior in front of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The following are Tester’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Chairwoman Murkowski, Ranking Member Cantwell, and distinguished members of this Committee.

It’s my honor to be here today to introduce a decorated Navy veteran and a fellow public servant lucky enough to represent the people of the Great State of Montana, the Treasure State, the Last Best Place.

Before our time here, both Congressman Zinke and I had the pleasure of serving in the Montana Senate, albeit not at the same time.

I want to thank him for answering the call to serve our nation yet again.

I believe it is very important for someone who knows the West to serve as Interior Secretary.

The job of Interior Secretary is incredibly important, especially today as America’s public lands come under attack by folks who want individual states to manage them.

That is the first step in selling off our public lands to the highest bidders.

It falls on this Committee to ask Congressman Zinke specific questions about how he views the responsibilities of Interior Secretary and how he will push back on this administration, with his perspective, whenever necessary.

Things like:

  • PUBLIC LANDS: Keeping public lands in public hands, for our kids and grandkids. 
  • NATIONAL PARKS: The deferred maintenance backlog wreaking havoc on our National Park system
  • LWCF: How to work with Congress and this Administration to ensure full and devoted funding to initiatives like the visionary Land and Water Conservation Fund
  • INDIAN COUNTRY: The trust responsibilities we owe to America’s sovereign Indian Nations
  • RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT: How to responsibly manage our public lands for energy and resource development… and how to balance that with respect to clean water, clean air and wildlife


I am particularly encouraged by the Congressman’s support for protecting the gateway to Yellowstone National Park. When a mining company proposed to drill just a few miles from the doorstep of our nation’s first National Park, the Congressman joined me, local businesses, and community members to protect our outdoor economy.

Of course, there are those issues where Congressman Zinke and I don’t see eye to eye.

But if he provides you with the answers he has provided to me, I expect you will find that he is equipped to hold this post with accountability.

As a westerner, I know he knows what’s at stake.

I am honored to introduce Congressman Zinke to this Committee, I trust that this Navy SEAL will shoot straight as they always do.

Thank you Madame Chairwoman.