David Bernhardt – Native News Online photo by Levi Rickert
Published April 11, 2019
WASHINGTON — The United States Senate confirmed David Bernhardt as the 53rd Secretary of the Interior on Thursday, April 11, 2019. The position is viewed as one of the most important federal posts to American Indians and Alaska Natives because the Interior department houses Indian Affairs, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education.
Amidst concerns raised by Democrat, Bernhardt, a former lobbyist and Interior Department veteran, was confirmed by a 56-41 vote. Four members of the Democratic caucus — Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Angus King (I-Maine) — joined all Republican senators to support Bernhardt’s confirmation.
From 2001 and 2009, Bernhardt held several positions within the Department of the Interior, including serving as Solicitor. In that capacity, he led the International Boundary Commission between the United States and Canada and was responsible, along with his Canadian counterpart, for maintaining the 5,525 mile international boundary between these two nations. Prior to that, he served then-Secretary Norton as a deputy solicitor, deputy chief of staff and counselor to the Secretary, and as director of Congressional and Legislative affairs and counselor to the Secretary, according to his biography on the Interior Department’s website.
A native of Rifle, Colorado, Bernhardt earned a B.A. in political science with a minor in business administration from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley in 1990. He graduated with honors from the George Washington University National Law Center in 1994 and is admitted to various state and federal court bars. He is married to Gena Bernhardt. They have two children and reside in Arlington, Virginia.