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Trump's Picks for Interior, Education Secretary Face Confirmation Hearings

FILE - President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks during a rally at DeltaPlex Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich.

U.S. Senate committees continue their questioning of President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet choices Tuesday with confirmation hearings for his picks to lead the Department of Interior and Department of Education.

Interior secretary nominee Ryan Zinke will testify before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, is a proponent of keeping public lands under federal ownership. That puts him at odds with those in the Republican Party who favor privatization, or placing federal lands under the control of states. Zinke's position matches the views of Trump, who says he does not think public land should be placed under state control.

Many environmental groups oppose Zinke, who has advocated for increased energy drilling and mining on public lands and has expressed skepticism about the urgency of climate change.
The Interior Department has more than 70,000 employees across the United States and oversees more than 20 percent of federal land, including national parks.

Education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos will make her appearance before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

She is a billionaire philanthropist from Michigan who heads the American Federation for Children, an advocacy organization that pushes for expanded use of school voucher programs, which provide government money to help pay for a child's education in private schools.

She is a noted critic of teachers' unions, which she referred to as “a formidable foe” while speaking at a school choice forum during the Republican National Convention.

The National Education Association, the largest teachers' union, opposes DeVos. NEA President Eskelsen Garcia said in a statement after the nomination was announced in November that DeVos "has done more to undermine public education than support students."

The Senate will be busy with hearings for other Cabinet posts this week before Trump's inauguration on Friday.

Wednesday will feature hearings for Commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, U.N. ambassador nominee Nikki Haley, Health and Human Services secretary nominee Tom Price, and the nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt.

On Thursday, former Texas Governor Rick Perry has a hearing on his nomination to head the Department of Energy.