Trump Picks Susan Combs For Interior Post

A terrific choice for America, for Texas, and, for Western ranchers, wildlife & habitat.

NOTE: This article initially appeared on on July 11, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate former Texas Agriculture Commissioner and Comptroller Susan Combs to be assistant secretary of policy management and budget at the U.S. Department of Interior.

Earlier this year, Combs also was reported to be one of three Texans who were contenders to head the U.S. Agriculture Department, a job that went to former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue.

In choosing her for the Interior post, the White House on Monday cited Combs’ extensive career in public office and in the private sector as a small-business owner running a ranch in the Big Bend area of Texas.

Trump officials also credit her with writing private property legislation and promoting transparency in government spending during her years in the Texas Legislature.

Born in San Antonio, Combs received her bachelor of arts degree from Vassar College and law degree from the University of Texas at Austin. As a lawyer, she handled juvenile cases for the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.

She was elected to two Texas statewide offices: as the state’s first woman agriculture commissioner, and then as the Texas comptroller of public accounts, treasurer and chief financial officer.

Altogether, Combs spent 16 years in statewide elected leadership.

The appointment puts Combs, who has long tusseled with the federal government over endangered species issues, near the top of the agency that includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The service enforces the Endangered Species Act passed by Congress in 1973.

As comptroller, Combs advocated for reforming the act, especially after the Legislature shifted control of endangered species policy from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to her office in 2011.

After leaving office in 2015, Combs’ political action committee, Texans for Positive Economic Policy, joined others in petitioning for the removal of the golden-cheeked warbler from the endangered list. The Fish and Wildlife Service denied the petition last year.

Texas U.S. Sen. John Cornyn issued a statement Tuesday vowing to support her nomination and called her a fierce advocate for rural Texans.

“As Agriculture Commissioner and then Comptroller of one of the nation’s largest economies, she has a clear record of promoting pro-growth policies and efficiently managing large organizations,” Cornyn said in the statement.

Combs also is the author of “A Perfect Match,” a romance novel in 1990 about a relationship between an NSA analyst and a spy that the Washington Post called a “bodice-ripper,” and “Texas Tenacity: A Call for Women to Direct Their Destiny” in 2016.

Express-News Staff writer Brendan Gibbons contributed to this story.

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