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Nov 10, 2:50 PM EST

Zinke says Democrats holding Interior nominees 'hostage'



WASHINGTON (AP) -- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is complaining that Senate Democrats are holding the department's nominees "hostage" to a political agenda that includes opposition to his review of presidentially designated monuments.

In a sharply worded letter to Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Zinke says it's unfortunate that Democrats have placed holds on four Interior nominees, including the department's top lawyer and budget chief.

Zinke said the nominees have nothing to do with the monument review, adding that "as a former Navy SEAL, this is not the type of hostage situation I am accustomed to."

Zinke offered to meet with Durbin, who requested a briefing last month to discuss the monument review. Zinke has recommended that four large monuments in the West be shrunk.

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