The voice vote nearly unanimous for Kempthorne. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., voted "present."
The nomination will be sent to the full Senate for a vote at a time yet to be scheduled. The committee's chairman, Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said he expected the Senate to confirm Kempthorne before the end of the month.
"The many challenges facing the Interior Department and its agencies demand that the Senate act swiftly to confirm a successor to Secretary Gale Norton," he said.
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