Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke was questioned on everything from sexual assault to climate change today as part of the nomination hearings before he can become the new U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Zinke opened the session by promising to work to restore trust in government, to prioritize backlogged repairs in the national parks and to ensure employees have the tools and flexibility needed to do their jobs. In a moment of Montana solidarity, both Republican Steve Daines and Democrat Jon Tester urged support of Zinke

"Of course, there are issues where the Congressman and I don't see eye to eye, but if he provides you with the answers that he has provided to me, I suspect that you will find that he is well equipped to hold this post with accountability,' said Tester. "As a westerner, I know what's at stake, so I am honored to introduce Congressman Zinke to this committee. I'm sure that a Navy Seal, as always, will shoot straight."

Things were a bit more heated when Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders asked questions on Climate Change. Zinke affirmed that climate change exists and that man contributes to it, but said there was debate over how best to respond to it.

"I don't believe it is a hoax," said Zinke. "You do not believe it is a hoax?" asked Sanders. "I believe we should be prudent. That means I don't know definitively. There is a lot of debate on both sides of the aisle," said Zinke.

"Well actually there is not a whole lot of debate. The scientific community is virtually unanimous that climate change is real and causing devastating problems," said Sanders.

Sanders also questioned Zinke on the issue of public land transfer.

"Some of my conservative friends believe that the day should come when we should privatize the national parks system. What is your feeling on that?" asked Sanders. "I am absolutely against transfer or sale of public land," said Zinke. "Good, that is a clear answer," said Sanders. "I can't be anymore clear," said Zinke. "No you can't. Thank you," said Sanders.

Unlike most of President Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet appointments Zinke’s hearing was not significantly disrupted by protesters. If approved, Zinke will oversee a multitude of federal agencies including the National Park Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.


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