Politics

Deb Haaland’s Historic Confirmation As First Native American Cabinet Secretary Draws Praise

Haaland’s confirmation is a win for environmental advocates.

Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., makes her way to a group photo with Democratic women members of the House on the East Front of the Capitol on January 4, 2019. | Getty Images
Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., makes her way to a group photo with Democratic women members of the House on the East Front of the Capitol on January 4, 2019. | Getty Images

The Senate voted 51-40 to confirm Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) as the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior on Monday. A citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna, she will be the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary.  

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs offers services to approximately 1.9 million Native Americans and Alaska Natives. In the U.S., there are 574 federally recognized Native American tribes and Alaska Native villages.

The confirmation drew support from all Democrats and four Republicans: Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Lindsey Graham (SC), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Dan Sullivan (AK). 

Haaland served as a key surrogate for the Biden campaign and has supported his plans for environmental justice, the climate crisis, and improving quality of life in tribal nations. Haaland has said she opposes the Keystone XL pipeline, and she was an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal. In 2019, she stated she was “‘against fracking and drilling on public lands.” 

More than 120 elected tribal leaders and officials urged Biden to pick Haaland as his secretary of the interior.

During her confirmation hearings, Haaland said about her history-making nomination: “The historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say, it is not about me. Rather, I hope this nomination would be an inspiration for Americans — moving forward together as one nation and creating opportunities for all of us.”

Her confirmation drew praise from lawmakers, celebrities, and advocacy organizations.

Versha Sharma contributed to this report.

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