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Grijalva backs Haaland for Interior Secretary

Grijalva backs Haaland for Interior Secretary
© Greg Nash

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) is backing fellow committee member Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandTrump promises to travel to Alaska to campaign against Murkowski Indigenous leadership is a linchpin to solving environmental crises The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Virus relief bill headed for weekend vote MORE (D-N.M.) as the Biden campaign considers nominating her to be the next secretary of the Interior.

Grijalva, who had been recommended for the top Interior position by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, shared a letter with members Monday saying he is no longer interested in the role, preferring to continue his work through his chairmanship. 

Instead, he urged committee members to put their weight behind Haaland, who would make history as the first-ever Native American Interior secretary.

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“It is well past time that an Indigenous person brings history full circle at the Department of Interior. As her colleague on the Natural Resources Committee, I have seen first-hand the passion and dedication she puts into these issues at the forefront of the Interior Department from tackling the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women to crafting thoughtful solutions to combating the climate crisis using America’s public lands,” Grijalva wrote in the letter obtained by The Hill. 

“It should go without saying, Rep. Haaland is absolutely qualified to do the job," he added.

For Haaland, the backing of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus could be significant, particularly as the Democratic Party looks for ways to address faltering support from key demographics, including Latinos.

It could also help Haaland compete against outgoing Sen. Tom UdallTom UdallOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing | GOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change | White House urges passage of House public lands package Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee MORE (D-N.M.) who is also being considered for the job.

Udall, whose father held the role during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, has worked on Interior issues for much of his time in the Senate and may face an easier confirmation path with support from colleagues.

His office recently released a document detailing his conservation work during his time in office. One of his bills, which would conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030, has been incorporated into President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Myanmar military conducts violent night raids Confidence in coronavirus vaccines has grown with majority now saying they want it MORE’s climate plan.