Daines Welcomes Zinke to First Congressional Hearing as Secretary

U.S. SENATE U.S. Senator Steve Daines today questioned newly sworn-in Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke during a hearing in the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

“This is an historic moment for Montana,” Daines stated. “We have before us the first Montanan to ever serve in a President’s cabinet, a Montana tribal chairman testifying on the witness panel, and both of Montana’s senators up on the dais. Now, with Secretary Zinke leading the Department of the Interior, we can truly say: It’s a new day for Indian Country. It’s a new day for tribal sovereignty. And it’s a new day for prosperous tribal economies.”

Daines pressed Zinke on securing implementation of the Blackfeet water rights settlement.

“As a member of the House of Representatives, you, Senator Tester, and I worked together to enact the historic Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act into law,” Daines stated. “Now, fully funding this settlement is a crucial step toward upholding the commitment made by Congress, the Administration, and the State of Montana to the Blackfeet people and neighboring communities. As you work to inform the administration’s budget request, including for fiscal year 2018, can I get your commitment to work with Congress to ensure the Blackfeet water rights settlement receives the full-funding it needs to be implemented?”

Zinke pledged to work with Daines to get things done.

Daines also discussed with Zinke about the importance of protecting good-paying coal jobs and allowing coal producers like the Crow Tribe to have access to export terminals. 

“Secretary Zinke, can I get your commitment as Secretary of the Interior to work with other federal agencies to ensure coal export terminal permits are issued in a timely manner to protect and create jobs for the Crow people?” Daines asked Zinke.

“I will work with you to make sure sovereignty means something,” Zinke responded. “If a tribe wants to export [their products] we should not stand in the way.” 

Click here to download Daines’ opening remarks.

Click here to download Daines’ questioning of Zinke.