Senate Western Caucus Urges Confirmation of Bernhardt for Deputy Secretary of the Interior


U.S. SENATE — Today, the Senate Western Caucus, led by Chairman Steve Daines (R-MT), urged the confirmation of Department of the Interior veteran David Bernhardt for Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI).


Bernhardt, a Westerner from Rifle, Colorado, brings years of personal experience as an avid hunter and fisherman as well as professional experience having served under former DOI Secretaries Gale Norton and Dirk Kempthorne in multiple positions.


Bernhardt was announced as President Donald J. Trump’s choice for Deputy Secretary on April 28 and was subsequently approved by the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on June 6. Less than a month away from the August recess, the Senate has confirmed only 23 percent of President Trump’s 216 nominations. By the first August recess during President Obama’s first term, the Senate had confirmed 69 percent of his 454 nominations.


U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT): “David Bernhardt will be a partner to Montanans and to Secretary Ryan Zinke – which makes for the best kind of Deputy Secretary of the Interior. David will work to improve access to public lands, restore American energy dominance and empower Montanans ability to best serve their families and communities. We need to confirm  David Bernhardt so he can get to work on behalf of Montanans and the West.”  


U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO): “As a native Coloradan from Rifle, David Bernhardt has a deep understanding of Western land issues, and his expertise and experience will serve the Department well. Unfortunately, a partisan minority in the Senate continues to block Mr. Bernhardt’s nomination, and I hope that the confirmation process has not become a broken process that disincentives qualified people, like Mr. Bernhardt, who are held in high professional regard, from becoming public servants.”


U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ): “David Bernhardt has the deep water background we need to continue efforts to protect our Colorado River supplies” said Senator Jeff Flake, the Chairman of the Water and Power Subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “We need this experienced nominee confirmed without delay.”


U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT): “I applaud the nomination of Dave Bernhardt for Deputy Secretary of the Department of Interior. President Trump and Secretary Zinke have already made great progress in restoring trust between Westerners and the federal government, but significant work remains, especially in Utah where reduced access to our public land has hurt our rural economies. As a former Interior Solicitor, Dave has the legal and political background necessary to confront some of the most difficult challenges ahead, such as expanding responsible development of our natural resources, protecting and promoting multiple-use, and expanding opportunities for recreational access. I am confident that Dave’s breadth of experience makes him uniquely qualified for this position, and I look forward to working with him.”


U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT): “I can think of no one who is more qualified to be deputy secretary of the Interior than David Bernhardt. He has a long track record of distinguished service in the department and he understands the importance of efficient and collaborative federal land and resource management. David’s extensive knowledge, experience, and leadership will go a long way in advancing Secretary Zinke’s goal of restoring the American people’s trust in the Interior Department. I urge my colleagues to support David’s nomination and confirm him as soon as possible.”


U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): “Dave Bernhardt is an excellent choice to help set strategic direction and run the Department of the Interior on a day-to-day basis. He grew up in the West, has extensive knowledge of issues that are important to Alaskans, and will be a great asset to Secretary Zinke and his team. We reported his nomination from the Energy and Natural Resources Committee with bipartisan support more than a month ago, so I urge my colleagues to support the swift confirmation of this well-qualified nominee.”


U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ): “David Bernhardt’s experience working on water policy and Native American issues makes him uniquely suited to serve as the Deputy Secretary of the Interior Department Administration. I am confident David will serve the state of Arizona and the nation with distinction, and I encourage my colleagues to vote in favor of his nomination.”


Bernhardt also has wide support from across the country:

  • National Congress of American Indians
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Boone and Crockett Club
  • Southern Ute Indian Tribe
  • NRA
  • Delta Waterfowl
  • Archery Trade Association
  • Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
  • Camp Fire Club of America
  • Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation
  • Conservation Force
  • Dallas Safari Club
  • Houston Safari Club
  • Masters of Foxhounds Association & Foundation
  • Mule Deer Foundation
  • National Shooting Sports Foundation
  • National Wild Turkey Federation
  • Orion - The Hunter's Institute
  • Pheasants Forever
  • Professional Outfitters and Guides of America
  • Quail Forever
  • Quality Deer Management Association
  • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
  • Safari Club International
  • Shikar-Safari Club
  • Sportsmen's Alliance
  • Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
  • Wild Sheep Foundation
  • Wildlife Forever
  • Wildlife Management Institute
  • Wildlife Mississippi
  • American Recreation Coalition
  • Boat U.S.
  • International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association
  • Marine Retailers Association of America
  • Motorcycle Industry Council
  • National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC)
  • National Marine Manufacturers Association
  • National Parks Hospitality Association
  • Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association
  • Recreation Vehicle Industry Association
  • Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association
  • Specialty Equipment Market Association
  • Specialty Vehicle Institute of America
  • Colorado River Water Conservation District
  • Colorado Water Congress
  • Family Farm Alliance
  • Oneida Indian Nation
  • Penobscot Nation
  • Public Lands Council
  • National Cattlemen's Beef Association
  • Quapaw Tribe Of Oklahoma
  • Seneca Nation of Indians
  • Gila River Indian Community 

Former United States Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ): “Having worked with David Bernhardt for many years on a variety of Department of the Interior matters, in particular on Indian water settlements, I know he’ll be a great addition to the team.”


David Allen President/CEO Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: “The Senate has not yet acted on several important positions that remain unfilled at the Interior Department. Among them is the nomination of David Bernhardt to be Deputy Secretary. This is a critical position that not only ensures the Department’s programs are run effectively, but also succeeds the Secretary in certain situations. Bernhardt is a Coloradan, a hunter and angler, and former high-ranking officer at Interior who understands the issues important to sportsmen and women. We encourage the Senate to act on his nomination without delay.” 


Dale Hall, Chief Executive Officer, Ducks Unlimited: “I have known and worked with David for more than 10 years and could not be more pleased with his nomination for Deputy Secretary of the Interior. For David Bernhardt, integrity is doing the right thing even when the easiest decision would be to continue with the status quo. I believe David is a man with personal and professional integrity that is beyond reproach and has always advocated for the proper application of science and implementation of the law, especially when it comes to species conservation. I believe David will continue to advocate for sound and balanced resource management and advocate for the use of best available science.”


Whit Fosburgh, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership President and CEO: “The Department of Interior, the chief steward of our national public lands, requires a Deputy Secretary who understands how the department functions and understands the complexities associated with balancing the resource needs of our country, both now, and most importantly, for future generations of Americans. David Bernhardt will provide much needed departmental experience to the Interior leadership team at a time when important natural resource decisions with wide impact are being considered.”


Jeffrey Vorberger, Vice President, Policy & Government Affairs of NOIA:

“NOIA strongly encourages the Senate to confirm David Bernhardt as the Deputy Secretary of the Interior sooner rather than later.  Strong, experienced leadership at all levels of the Department are necessary as America strives to become energy dominant.  David has a proven record, is beyond qualified and his extensive experience serving the Department of Interior under the George W. Bush administration will make him a vital asset to Secretary Zinke.  Further delay on his confirmation is a lost opportunity.”


Peter Hayes, Associate General Manager & Chief Public Affairs Executive, Salt River Project: “David Bernhardt has for many years exhibited strong leadership on federal land, water, and natural resources policies, having previously served the public as a senior official at the Department of the Interior.  SRP urges quick confirmation in the Senate for Mr. Bernhardt and looks forward to continuing its long-standing collaborative partnership with the Department under Secretary Zinke and Mr. Bernhardt's leadership.”


Russell Begaye, President of the Navajo Nation: “Mr. Bernhardt brings years of experience working on Indian country's most pressing issues. I look forward to working with him and the rest of the Department of the Interior leadership team to bring the Bureau of Indian Affairs into the 21st century.”


Stephen Roe Lewis, Governor, Gila River Indian Community, AZ: “Based on our experience in negotiating and working on complex issues with Mr. Bernhardt, we support his position as Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior.  We believe he has an understanding of tribal sovereignty and the United States’ trust responsibility to tribal nations, including the Gila River Indian Community.”


White Mountain Apache Tribal Council, AZ: “David Bernhardt is respected by the White Mountain Apache Tribe and enjoys widespread respect in Indian County as being fair and well versed in Native American issues and the historic time-honored government to government and trust relationship between Indian Nations and the United States.” 


The position of Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior is the Chief Operating Officer of the Department and Bernhardt's nomination is subject to confirmation by the United States Senate.


Bernhardt also previously served as the United States Commissioner to the International Boundary Commission, U.S. and Canada. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado and graduated with honors from George Washington University National Law Center.   He recently served on the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries for the Commonwealth of Virginia, where he resides in Arlington with his wife Gena and their two children.  As Deputy Secretary, Bernhardt will make Interior a better neighbor, ensure American energy dominance to create jobs and return Endangered Species Act to its original intent.





Contact: Marcie KinzelKatie Waldman