President-elect Donald Trump has selected Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers to lead the Interior Department, according to The New York Times, which cites two people close to the transition effort. If confirmed, the Washington Republican would be in charge of the nation’s public lands and waters in an administration that may aim to open them up to fossil fuel extraction.
McMorris Rodgers, 47, is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and has voted for legislation to allow more oil and gas drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf.
She’s also chairwoman of the House Republican Conference and the highest-ranking woman in the chamber’s GOP leadership, so her move to the Cabinet would create a party leadership vacancy.
A descendent of pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail, McMorris Rodgers has served as a party messenger, presenting a family-friendly image to contrast with negative GOP stereotypes. In 2014, she delivered the nationally televised Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.
Born in Salem, Oregon, she lived in British Columbia as a child. Her family moved to Kettle Falls, Washington, on the Columbia River, 30 miles south of the Canadian border, as she and her brother were preparing to enter high school.
Her father chaired the Stevens County Republican Party and was the president of the local Chamber of Commerce. She was the first in her family to attend college. She worked her way through Pensacola Christian College in Florida in several jobs, including stints at McDonald’s and as a housekeeper.
She was the first congresswoman to have two children while in office, and she broke her own record with the birth of her third child in late 2013.