Tara Sweeney moving through Senate after favorable committee vote

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Alaska Native Tara Sweeney is one step closer to her new role after a vote in the U.S. Senate Wednesday. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee voting on Sweeney’s nomination unanimously decided to recommend her to the full Senate.

Sweeney is inching toward becoming the first Alaska Native to lead the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior. Her nomination has been on hold for months because of questions over a possible conflict of interest. Sweeney is a birthright shareholder of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, but says she will recuse herself if matters involving the corporation come to her desk. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke calls the delay absolutely wrong.

“She’s absolutely qualified for it, but the wait...it’s absolutely unconscionable that we would have to wait this long for a candidate of that quality,” said Zinke.

That wait could soon be over, though the full Senate vote has not yet been scheduled.