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House Democrats push Biden to pick Haaland as next Interior secretary

House Democrats push Biden to pick Haaland as next Interior secretary
© Aaron Schwartz

More than 50 House Democrats are pushing President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  New DOJ rule could allow executions by electrocution, firing squad MORE to select Rep. Deb HaalandDebra HaalandFormer Sen. Carol Moseley Braun stumps for Interior post: 'A natural fit for me' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet MORE (D-N.M.) as his next Interior secretary, a move that would for the first time bring a Native American into a president’s Cabinet.

“Representative Deb Haaland is eminently qualified to be Interior Secretary. She has been a champion for our environment and public lands and has worked tirelessly to improve the nation-to-nation relationship between the United States and Indian tribes,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the transition team, noting their ability to “make history by giving Native Americans a seat at the Cabinet table for the first time.”

Haaland, who is already being vetted for the position, was in 2018 one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, alongside Rep. Sharice DavidsSharice DavidsOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats push Biden to pick Haaland as next Interior secretary | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | Wasserman Schultz pitches climate plan in race to chair Appropriations House Democrats push Biden to pick Haaland as next Interior secretary US is far from gender balance in politics despite record year for women candidates MORE (D-Kan.).

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The letter, first reported by Politico, was spearheaded by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Haaland chairs the panel's Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

Though just elected to her second term, “she has distinguished herself as a respected leader within our caucus,” the lawmakers wrote, while her focus on climate change and Native rights would help her “play a leading role in carrying out your administration’s environmental and climate policies and managing its relationship with tribal nations.”

Haaland has also been backed by youth climate organization Sunrise Movement and has generated excitement among progressives and those eager to see Biden keep his promise to pick a Cabinet that reflects the diversity of the country.

But the letter from colleagues helps bolster her bid, showing support from a broader ideological range. 

Sens. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallFormer Sen. Carol Moseley Braun stumps for Interior post: 'A natural fit for me' Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet Overnight Energy: Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' | GM reverses on Trump, exits suit challenging California's tougher emissions standards | United Nations agency says greenhouse gas emissions accumulating despite lockdown decline MORE and Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichFormer Sen. Carol Moseley Braun stumps for Interior post: 'A natural fit for me' Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet House Democrats push Biden to pick Haaland as next Interior secretary MORE, fellow New Mexico Democrats, are also being considered for the role, though it is unclear if they are also being vetted.

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Udall, who did not run for reelection and is leaving the Senate in January, told The Hill earlier this week that he is still in the running for the role.

“Like so many New Mexicans, I’m excited about the vision of the incoming Biden-Harris administration and I am honored to be considered for an opportunity to continue my public service,” he said.

The letter is Grijalva’s second in support of Haaland.

After being endorsed for the Interior role himself by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, he penned a letter Monday asking fellow members to back Haaland.

“It is well past time that an Indigenous person brings history full circle at the Department of Interior,” Grijalva wrote.

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