President-elect Barack Obama is set this week to nominate first-term Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) to be the next secretary of the Interior, the AP is reporting.
Salazar's nomination would complete Obama's environment, energy and natural resources team and it also would require Congress to pass legislation modifying his pay. That would be necessary so that the nomination could comply with constitutional rules barring serving Members from voting on pay increases for positions to which they are then nominated.
Salazar, who has developed a reputation for his work on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee during his time in the Senate, was the head of Colorado's Natural Resources Department from 1990 to 1994.
Prior to adjourning for the year, Congress passed legislation reducing the pay for the secretary of State in order to facilitate Obama's nomination of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to the slot. Conservative activists have complained that the action does not satisfy constitutional requirements and have said they are considering a lawsuit. Should that move forward, it could affect the Salazar nomination.
Obama and Salazar were both elected in 2004, and were considered to be two of the Democratic Party's only bright spots of that election cycle. The two lawmakers have also shared an ability to often find common ground between the party's progressive and moderate wings and have both been considered risings stars of the party.