The Senate voted Monday to rep. To confirm Deb Haaland, DN.M., as President Joe Biden’s Secretary of the Department of the Interior, making the second-term Democrat the first Native U.S. cabinet secretary in U.S. history.
The vote was 51-40, with four Republicans joining Democrats.
Haaland, an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo, has gained dual support to run the Department of Home Affairs, which has 70,000 employees and is charged with overseeing the country’s natural resources. The agency manages almost 500 million hectares of land, or one-fifth of the area of the United States.
The confirmation of Haaland fills one of the few remaining vacancies in Biden’s cabinet, almost two months after he was sworn in. With most of the most important positions now occupied, the United States Trade Representative, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services are the outstanding positions.
“We have made history twice in the last few minutes,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said after the vote, noting that Haaland was the first Native American secretary as well as the first Native U.S. cabinet secretary. .
The confirmation is a victory for progressives who have advocated Haaland’s nomination, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Haaland, a proponent of the Green New Deal, was one of the co-chairs of Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign.
Republicans tried to assert Haaland’s progressive views against her during her confirmation hearings last month. Senator Steve Daines, R-Mont., Expressed Haaland support for the Green New Deal and the declining number of jobs available in the fossil fuel industry.
“I believe there are millions of jobs in a clean energy future,” Haaland replied in line with Biden’s statements in the past. “If we can all work together, I think we can do it all. I think we can protect our public lands and create jobs.”
Asked about her opposition to hydrofracking in public lands, Haaland replied that if she confirmed that she would support Biden’s agenda, not necessarily her own.
“President Biden does not support a ban on fracturing, is my understanding,” she said.
During the trial, Haaland emphasized her dual credentials. In her first year in Congress, Haaland introduced more bills with a co-sponsor from another party than any other freshmen in the House, according to GovTrack, which also rates her as the 10th most politically left-wing member of Congress.
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources voted earlier in March to advance Haaland’s nomination by an 11-9 vote, with Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, joining ten Democrats in favor of her confirmation.
In a somewhat unusual maneuver, Haaland also proposed the support of Representative Don Young, another Alaska Republican, who introduced her to the committee.
“I let her grab across the aisle to talk to me about Alaska. She’s twofold,” Young told lawmakers.
Murkowski, although she voted to promote Haaland’s nomination, was one of the apparent skeptics in the committee.
“I am going to put my trust in Representative Haaland and her team despite very serious concerns,” Murkowski said.
The four Republicans who voted in favor of Haaland’s confirmation Monday were Murkowski, Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., and Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Sen. Joe Manchin, the influential and closely watched moderate Democrat from West Virginia, also gave his approval. Manchin quoted Young’s endorsement as saying that it would “long ago put an Indian woman in the cabinet chair.”
During the trial, Haaland promised to work to restore the U.S. federal government’s relationship with Native American tribes if confirmed. She points to her own story as inspiration.
“If a native woman of humble beginnings can be confirmed as Home Secretary, our country holds promise for all,” she said.
Haaland is one of the first two Native American women to be elected to Congress, along with fellow Democrat Sharice Davids of Kansas, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation.
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