Haaland OK'd at Interior, 1st Native American Cabinet head

Haaland OK'd at Interior, 1st Native American Cabinet head”

The U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland as interior secretary, making Haaland the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary.

Nine senators were absent from the vote, and four Republicans - Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Lindsey Graham of SC, and Susan Collins of ME - sided with Democrats to approve Haaland's confirmation.

By a 51-40 vote, Haaland becomes the first Native America to lead a cabinet department and the first to lead the federal agency that has wielded influence over the nation's tribes for almost two centuries.

During her confirmation hearing in February, Haaland indicated that she supported Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone pipeline.

Haaland will oversee polices guiding use of 500 million acres (197 million ha) of federal and tribal land, a fifth of the nation's surface.

Haaland, 60, had served in Congress as the US representative from New Mexico's 1st congressional district since 2019. "Before America's public lands were America's public lands, they were Native American lands, and Deb Haaland will be the first Native American to serve in any president's Cabinet and the first to serve as the secretary of this department", Democratic Sen.

"She's the embodiment of the old adage that if you see it you can be it", he said. In 2018, she became one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress.

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"To me these environmental issues are entangled with tribal sovereignty". Haaland was not in the committee room, but Murkowski addressed her directly, saying, "I will hold you to your commitments".

"Rep. Haaland's confirmation represents a enormous step forward in creating a government that represents the full richness and diversity of this country, " said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Megan Hill, a citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and director of Harvard's Project on American Indian Economic Development, said Haaland must now juggle many competing demands, facing huge expectations due to the historic nature of her appointment.

Even before her confirmation, the Interior Department has been moving swiftly to reverse deregulatory actions of the former Trump administration, such as rollbacks of the Migratory Bird Treaty.

"American jobs are being sacrificed in the name of the Biden agenda, and Rep. Haaland couldn't defend it, " Barrasso said, referring to decisions by Biden to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and impose a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands.

Heinrich, who lives in Haaland's district, said she "always has an open door and an open mind" to a range of views. In addition to managing the country's public lands, endangered species and natural resources, the agency is also responsible for the government-to-government relations between the US and Native American tribes.

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