Zinke sworn in as interior secretary

Vice President Mike Pence administers the oath of office to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, as his wife Lolita holds the Bible. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ryan Zinke has been sworn in as interior secretary, giving him oversight of 400 million acres of public land, most of it in the west.

Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath of office on Wednesday, hours after the Senate confirmed President Donald Trump’s nomination of Zinke by a vote of 68-31.

The 55-year-old Montana native and former Navy SEAL has also pledged to tackle the estimated $12 billion backlog in maintenance and repairs at national parks.

With Zinke’s approval, the Senate has confirmed 16 out of 22 of Trump’s Cabinet and Cabinet-level nominations. Senate confirmation votes are pending on Trump’s nominees to head the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and Labor, along with the posts of U.S. trade representative and the director of national intelligence.

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