Editor’s note: Relying on media sources, The Daily Signal incorrectly reported Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ selection as interior secretary on Dec. 9. President-elect Donald Trump instead announced his choice of Rep. Ryan Zinke on Dec. 15. We regret the error and have taken steps to ensure this type of mistake doesn’t happen in the future.
President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly selected Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., to lead the Interior Department. She is the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress heavily involved in energy and environmental issues.
McMorris Rodgers is the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, and has also led on advocacy for people with disabilities and budget issues. If confirmed by the Senate, she’ll lead the department overseeing federal lands.
Here are some things to know about McMorris Rodgers.
1. Republican Leader From a Blue State
McMorris Rodgers represents the 5th District of Washington state, which consistently elects Democrats in most statewide elections.
However, she has found success in Washington’s eastern region. She was first appointed to a vacant seat in the state House of Representatives in 1994, then was elected to the seat.
She served as the House minority leader from 2002 to 2003. Then, after a decade in the state Legislature, won a seat in Congress.
In 2009, McMorris Rodgers became the vice chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, then became chairwoman in 2013. The position makes her the fourth highest-ranking Republican in Congress.
In 2014, she delivered the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union.
McMorris Rodgers is a co-chair of seven congressional caucuses: Military Family, Down Syndrome, Lumber, Neuroscience, Hydropower, Northwest Energy, and the Rural Health Caucus.
She is the longest-serving woman in Republican leadership, and became a vice chair of Trump’s transition team in November.
2. Record on Forestry and Energy
If confirmed as interior secretary, she will be making policy about many environmental protection and energy issues. She will also oversee the United States policy regarding tribal lands.
She serves on the House Natural Resources Committee, and its subcommittee on fisheries, wildlife, and oceans. She is also the chairwoman of the National Task Force on Improving the National Environmental Policy Act.
Washington is a state with strong timber and mining industries, and McMorris Rodgers has reportedly been a prominent defender of both.
McMorris Rodgers is the co-chairwoman of the Northwest Energy Caucus, and is also the founder of the Hydropower Caucus. She has been an advocate for using more dams and hydropower as a source of renewable energy.
Her district includes two national forests that frequently endure wildfires. So, she has backed stronger forest management legislation while also seeking to strengthen emergency response to wildfires.
McMorris Rodgers introduced and helped pass several bills, one provided federal incentives to rural communities and local governments to collaborate for better regional planning to fight wildfires. She sponsored another bill to reclassify the worst forest fires
As the co-chairwoman of the Rural Health Caucus, she pushed for strong health care services for Native Americans, another area that would be related to the Interior Department.
3. Disability Advocate
McMorris Rodgers’ son, Cole Rodgers, born in 2007, has Down syndrome, and she is the chair of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus in the House.
She has also been a strong advocate on other disability issues.
In 2014, McMorris Rodgers played a sizable role in the final passage of the ABLE Act, which created tax-free savings accounts to help individuals with disabilities save and invest in the future, as a means of empowerment.
In what was called ABLE 2.0, she co-sponsored the ABLE to Work Act that expands the amount of money disabled individuals can contribute to their savings accounts to include income from jobs. However, the bill didn’t yet pass.