WASHINGTON – The Senate on Monday confirmed New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland as inside secretary, making her the primary Native American to guide a Cabinet division and the primary to guide the federal company that has wielded affect over the nation’s tribes for practically two centuries.
Haaland was confirmed by a 51-40 vote.
Democrats and tribal teams hailed Haaland’s affirmation as historic, saying her choice signifies that Indigenous individuals — who lived in North America earlier than the United States was created — will for the primary time see a Native American lead the highly effective division the place choices on relations with the practically 600 federally acknowledged tribes are made. Interior additionally oversees a number of different points, together with vitality improvement on public lands and waters, nationwide parks and endangered species.
“Representative Haaland’s confirmation represents a gigantic step forward in creating a government that represents the full richness and diversity of this country,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “Native Americans for much too lengthy have been uncared for on the Cabinet degree and in so many different locations.”
Haaland’s nomination has been carefully watched by tribal communities throughout the nation, with some digital events drawing a whole lot of individuals to look at her two-day affirmation listening to final month.
Supporters projected a photograph of Haaland, a two-term congresswoman who represents higher Albuquerque, on the facet of the Interior constructing in downtown Washington with textual content that learn “Our Ancestors’ Dreams Come True.”
Many Native Americans see Haaland, 60, as somebody who will elevate their voices and defend the atmosphere and tribes’ rights. Her choice breaks a two-century sample of non-Native officers, principally male, serving as the highest federal official over American Indian affairs. The federal authorities usually labored to dispossess tribes of their land and, till just lately, to assimilate them into white tradition.
“It is long past time that an American Indian serve as the secretary of the Interior,” stated Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians, the nation’s oldest and largest tribal group.
“The nation wants her management and imaginative and prescient to assist lead our response to local weather change, to steward our lands and cultural resources and to make sure that throughout the federal authorities, the United States lives as much as its belief and treaty obligations to tribal nations and our residents,” Sharp stated.
Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, known as Haaland’s affirmation “an unprecedented and monumental day for all first people of this country. Words cannot express how overjoyed and proud we are to see one of our own confirmed to serve in this high-level position.”
Haaland’s affirmation “units us on a greater path to righting the wrongs of the previous with the federal authorities and evokes hope in our individuals, particularly our younger individuals,” Nez added.
Not everybody was celebrating. Some Republican senators have criticized Haaland’s views on oil drilling and different vitality improvement as radical and excessive, citing her opposition to the Keystone XL oil pipeline and her help for the Green New Deal, a sweeping, if principally aspirational, coverage to deal with local weather change and earnings inequality.
Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, the highest Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, stated Haaland’s “extreme views” and help of “catastrophic legislation” such as the Green New Deal would make her affirmation as inside secretary disastrous, harming America’s vitality provide and financial system.
“American jobs are being sacrificed within the identify of the Biden agenda, and Representative Haaland could not defend it,” Barrasso stated, referring to choices by President Joe Biden to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and impose a moratorium on new oil and gasoline leases on federal lands.
Barrasso additionally faulted Haaland’s help for continued safety for grizzly bears within the Yellowstone area of the Rocky Mountains, regardless of a advice by the Fish and Wildlife Service that about 700 bears in elements of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho not want protections.
“Representative Haaland has chosen to disregard the science and the scientists of the very division that she is now nominated to guide,” Barrasso stated, calling on Interior to take away protections for the grizzly below the Endangered Species Act.
Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell stated she appreciates Haaland’s management within the House on a variety of points, including that Haaland’s standing as a Native American “will give us an additional benefit on (tribal) points which can be so necessary to Indian Country total.”
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska stated she had “some real misgivings” about Haaland as a result of of her views on oil drilling and different vitality points, however stated Native Alaskans, an necessary constituency in her rural state, had urged her to again Haaland.
“Quite honestly, we need (Haaland) to be a success,” Murkowski stated.
Senator Martin Heinrich, a Democrat from New Mexico stated he was dissatisfied on the rhetoric utilized by Barrasso and different Republicans. Heinrich, who lives in Haaland’s district, stated she “always has an open door and an open mind” to a variety of views.