Senator Eyed as Biden Interior Chief Has Conservation Streak

(Bloomberg) — Retiring Senator Tom Udall is leading a short list of candidates to run the Interior Department if Joe Biden wins the presidency next month — a role that would put him to work in a building named for his father.

Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, is a top contender to be Biden’s secretary of the Interior and would consider the role if asked, according to people familiar with the matter who sought anonymity to discuss the personnel search.



Tom Udall wearing a suit and tie: Senate Passes Measure To Limit Trump On Iran That Faces Veto


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Senate Passes Measure To Limit Trump On Iran That Faces Veto

Senator Tom Udall

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

“It’s hard to find someone who’s been a bigger champion of public lands than Tom Udall, whether you’re talking about in his state, New Mexico, or nationwide, advocating for the Arctic refuge and fighting climate change,” said Athan Manuel, director of the Sierra Club’s land protection program. “It’s in his genes.”

Representative Deb Haaland, another Democrat from New Mexico, and Representative Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona who leads the House Natural Resources Committee, also have won praise from environmental groups and been recommended to head the Interior Department.

The agency acts as the nation’s landlord, overseeing grazing, recreation, energy development and other activities on about a fifth of the U.S. The department also is in charge of the national park system and regulates energy development in coastal waters, including offshore wind farms and drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tom Udall’s father, Stewart Udall, was Interior secretary from 1961 to 1969 and is credited with a major expansion in federal land protection, including the creation of dozens of wildlife refuges, national parks and recreation areas. He died in 2010, and the agency’s headquarters building in Washington was named for him three months later.

Under President Donald Trump, the Interior Department has encouraged mining and drilling for oil and gas on federal real estate, while creating new hunting and fishing opportunities at wildlife refuges and hatcheries. Under Biden, the department would take a sharp left turn, pivoting to focus aggressively on conservation while clamping down on drilling.

“If we’re going to save the human species and save animal species, we need to take dramatic action,” Udall said Monday, during an online event environmental groups organized to celebrate the lawmaker’s legacy.

Udall spokesman Ned Adriance declined to answer questions about the senator’s potential role as Interior secretary. “Right now, Senator Udall is focused on a strong finish to his Senate term, and he’s also working hard to help the Biden-Harris ticket win New Mexico, win the West and win the election,” Adriance said.

Udall has laid out plans to enlist federal lands in the fight against climate change — transforming the territory into uninterrupted habitat for vulnerable species and a sponge for carbon dioxide instead of a prime U.S. source of fossil fuels and the greenhouse gas emissions that come from burning them.

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GOP senator defends not wearing a mask at Rose Garden Supreme Court event

Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn appeared on ABC’s “The View.”

GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who attended the White House Rose Garden event two weekends ago now tied to at least 14 coronavirus cases, on Thursday defended her decision not to wear a mask at the event.

During an appearance on ABC’s “The View,” Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, said that while the event is a good reminder to Americans to take precautions, she was tested right before the event and behaved safely.

“I had been tested right before I went to the event I had my mask on and actually had it there on my arm when i walked into the event,” Blackburn said. “I took it off to walk into the event but you know it’s a great reminder to us wash your hands, wear gloves if you need, be certain you are using sanitizer.

PHOTO: Sen. Marsha Blackburn speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 30, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 30, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 30, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Blackburn, who said she has since tested negative for coronavirus, was at the White House during the event to witness Trump’s announcement of his Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Barrett’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Blackburn is a member, are set to begin on Monday.

PHOTO: Judge Amy Coney Barrett is nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on Sept. 26, 2020.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on Sept. 26, 2020.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on Sept. 26, 2020.

But following the positive coronavirus tests of two Republican senators on the committee who attended the Rose Garden event, Democrats, who have consistently argued that the Senate should wait to confirm a new justice until after the next president is selected, have also argued that holding the hearings now is a safety concern.

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GOP Senator Marco Rubio Calls on White House for Frequent Updates About Trump’s Condition

Republican Senator Marco Rubio called on the White House for transparency following President Donald Trump testing positive for COVID-19.



a man wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (R) speaks to members of the media in the Senate Subway under the U.S. Capitol on August 6, 2020 in Washington, DC. Rubio called for regular updates on the president's health after he tested positive for COVID-19.


© Stefani Reynolds/Getty
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (R) speaks to members of the media in the Senate Subway under the U.S. Capitol on August 6, 2020 in Washington, DC. Rubio called for regular updates on the president’s health after he tested positive for COVID-19.

With a number of people sharing conspiracy theories regarding Trump’s COVID diagnosis, the Florida senator said it was the White House’s duty to share “frequent, detailed, & transparent updates” regarding the president and his condition. He also said that everyone should “be skeptical of outlandish rumors” regarding Trump’s diagnosis.

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“A significant increase in conspiracy theories & outrageous claims since the President’s diagnosis,” he wrote. “Lies spread much faster than fact checking.”

Rubio had previously wrote on Twitter that he was praying for the president and first lady Melania Trump after the announcement that the couple had tested positive. The senator also tweeted: “Any adversary who views news of @POTUS testing positive as an opportunity to test the United States would be making a grave mistake.”

It’s unclear what types of updates Rubio is seeking from the White House. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted out an update from the president’s physician, and Trump has tweeted messages to his supporters that he felt that everything was “going well,” as well as a video message that he was going to Walter Reed Hospital.

While Rubio did not expand on what conspiracies he was referring to, a number of different theories have circulated since Trump was diagnosed with COVID, with some claiming the announcement was politically motivated and others more outlandish.

As previously reported, former congressional candidate and conservative commentator Deanna Lorraine suggested that Democrats intentionally gave the president the virus during the first presidential debate on Tuesday. “Trump was fine until the debate, where they set up microphones & podiums for him,” she wrote. “He tests positive a couple of days after the debate. I put nothing past the left. NOTHING.”

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