The Latest: Ben Carson Clears Initial Senate Test Vote

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominations (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

The Senate has given its initial approval to President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson. Carson’s actual confirmation vote is likely Thursday.

Carson, a celebrated African-American neurosurgeon and candidate in last year’s GOP presidential primary, cleared a preliminary Senate hurdle on a bipartisan 62-37 vote.

Carson won bipartisan support last month in the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. Republicans praised his life story, growing up in inner-city Detroit with a single mother who had a third-grade education. Some Democrats welcomed Carson’s promises to address lead hazards in housing, homelessness and other issues.

Carson will lead a sprawling agency with some 8,300 employees and a current budget of about $47 billion — though it’s facing big cuts under Trump.

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10:30 a.m.

The Senate has confirmed Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke as Interior secretary, responsible for more than 400 million acres of public land, mostly in the West.

The Republican-controlled Senate approved Zinke’s nomination on Wednesday, 68-31.

Zinke, a Republican in his second term as Montana’s sole House member, advocates a multiple-use model for federal land management that allows hiking, hunting, fishing and camping along with harvesting timber, mining for coal and drilling for oil and natural gas.

Zinke also pledges to tackle an estimated $12 billion backlog in maintenance and repair at national parks and stand firm against attempts to sell, give away or transfer federal lands.

Zinke, 55, is a former Navy SEAL and Montana state senator. He is expected to be sworn in later Wednesday.

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3:30 a.m.

The Republican-controlled Senate has scheduled a vote on the nomination of Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke as Interior secretary.

Zinke, a Republican in his second term as Montana’s sole House member, told senators at a January hearing that federal land management should be done under a “multiple-use” model that allows hiking, hunting, fishing and camping along with harvesting timber, mining for coal and drilling for oil and natural gas.

Zinke also pledged to tackle an estimated $12 billion backlog in maintenance and repair at national parks and stand firm against attempts to sell, give away or transfer federal lands.

Zinke, 55, a former Navy SEAL and Montana state senator, resigned as a delegate to the Republican National Convention last year to protest the GOP’s position in favor of land transfers to state or private groups.

Still, his stance on public lands has come into question after he voted in favor of a House rule that would allow federal land transfers to be considered cost-free and budget-neutral

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