The White House is backing off its plan to nominate Elizabeth Klein to be the deputy secretary of the Interior Department, marking the second nominee President Biden has been forced to backtrack on in just over two months in office.
A White House spokesperson told Fox News on Tuesday that Klein’s nomination was never officially submitted and that she will not be formally nominated to be the Interior Department deputy secretary. Biden’s presidential transition organization announced Klein as his pick for the post on Jan. 18.
The spokesperson added that the White House is hoping to announce more appointments to the department in the coming weeks.
Biden’s nominee to be the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Neera Tanden, took herself out of consideration earlier this month after opposition from key senators.
Klein previously worked for the Interior Department under Presidents Obama and Clinton and was most recently the deputy director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU School of Law.
That center, funded largely by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, drew controversy for paying the salaries of lawyers who were then essentially farmed out to Democrat state attorney general offices to pursue climate lawsuits.
Politico first reported that Klein was no longer being considered to the Interior post. The nomination was pulled after Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, made clear that she would oppose efforts to confirm Klein, according to the publication.
Murkowski was a key vote for the White House in securing the confirmation of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. Murkowski said at the time that she was excited to vote for Haaland to be the first Native American to run the Interior Department but that she had serious reservations about her policies.
Alaskans, Murkowski said, “are concerned by her opposition to resource development on public lands, including her opposition to key projects in Alaska and her questioning of the vital role that Alaska Native Corporations serve in our communities.”
“I am going to place my trust in Representative Haaland and her team, despite some very real misgivings,” Murkowski added.
Representatives for Murkowski did not immediately respond to Fox News’ questions on Tuesday morning about the Klein nomination. Neither did representatives for Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a Democrat from an energy state who also reluctantly supported Haaland.
Democrats theoretically could still have confirmed Klein without Murkowski’s help, as long as Manchin and all 49 other Democratic senators were on board. But it is not clear that Manchin, like Murkowski, would have been ready to support another very progressive nominee to a post that significantly affects his state.