New Mexico Democrat Stansbury sworn into Haaland's old seat

New Mexico Democrat Stansbury sworn into Haaland's old seat
© Greg Nash

Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.) was formally sworn in as a member of the House on Monday after winning a special election to fill the seat vacated by Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandTracy Stone-Manning's confirmation treatment was simply unacceptable — and it must stop Overnight Energy: Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections | Biden to return to pre-Obama water protections | Western governors ask Biden for aid on wildfires Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections MORE.

House Democrats now have slightly more wiggle room for defections among their historically thin majority with Stansbury a sitting lawmaker. Democrats now hold 220 seats over Republicans' 211, meaning that they can afford up to four defections and still pass legislation without any GOP support.

Before Stansbury was sworn in on Monday, Democrats could lose only three of their own members on a party-line vote.

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Stansbury handily won the special election earlier this month in a race that was considered an early test of both parties' strengths ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, although the Albuquerque-area district is largely urban and Democratic.

She previously served as a member of the New Mexico state House of Representatives and worked as a science educator in the state through the Museum of Natural History. She also worked for the Office of Management and Budget as well as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

"I ran for Congress because I believe deeply in our communities and our ability to bring meaningful change and that the weight of history and of all future generations is on us to do so," Stansbury said in a House floor speech after Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiManchin on reported boos at Democratic luncheon: 'I heard a lot of nos' Kinzinger supports Jan. 6 panel subpoenas for Republicans, including McCarthy Ocasio-Cortez: Democrats can't blame GOP for end of eviction moratorium MORE (D-Calif.) administered the oath of office.

Haaland was first elected to represent the district in 2018 but resigned from the House in March after President BidenJoe BidenGOP report on COVID-19 origins homes in on lab leak theory READ: The .2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Senators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session MORE tapped her to lead the Interior Department, becoming the first Native American Cabinet secretary.

Four vacancies remain in the House, with some special elections to fill those seats not expected for months. The seat left by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators Women's March endorses Nina Turner in first-ever electoral endorsement Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act MORE remains open as well as those vacated by former Reps. Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversTrump takes two punches from GOP The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6 MORE (R-Ohio), Alcee HastingsAlcee (Judge) Lamar HastingsNew Mexico Democrat Stansbury sworn into Haaland's old seat House Democrats unveil .9 billion bill to boost security after insurrection Carter sworn in as House member to replace Richmond, padding Democrats' majority MORE (D-Fla.) and Ron WrightRon WrightPhotos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris Trump tries to spin failed Texas endorsement: 'This was a win' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6 MORE (R-Texas).