Story at a glance

  • Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) would be the first Native American to hold a Cabinet-level position if nominated and confirmed.
  • The incoming Biden administration was reportedly weighing concerns about Haaland’s departure from the House of Representatives, which would leave Democrats with a thin majority.
  • Native American and progressive groups have recently pushed Biden to tap Haaland as his Interior secretary.

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) could be the first Native American to hold a Cabinet-level position in U.S. history, as she appears to be President-elect Joe Biden’s top choice to lead the U.S. Department of Interior, according to a report from Reuters

Reuters reports Biden’s team is close to deciding whether Haaland, who currently serves as vice chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, will be chosen to head the agency responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources in the country, including tribal lands and national parks. 


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The incoming Biden administration was reportedly weighing concerns about Haaland’s departure from the House of Representatives, which would leave Democrats with a thin majority. One unnamed source told the news outlet the decision had been made and an announcement was “imminent.” 

Native American and progressive groups have pushed Biden to tap Haaland as his Interior secretary. About 150 tribal leaders signed a letter to Biden last week requesting he choose Haaland as his nominee, less than a month after dozens of House Democrats sent a letter urging him to do the same. Biden is also reportedly considering former deputy secretary Michael L. Connor for the role, who is a member of New Mexico’s Taos Pueblo. 

Haaland is a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, a tribe west of Albuquerque, N.M. She was one of the first two Native American women to ever be elected to Congress in 2018, along with Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kansas), and held onto her seat in November. 

“I think it’s wonderful that our country is progressing in that manner, that a Cabinet-level position filled by a Native American is a conversation that we’re having right now,” Haaland said during a Washington Post Live event last week. 


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Published on Dec 15, 2020