Energy & Environment

Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated ‘by something other than her record’

JIM WATSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
US Representative Deb Haaland, Democrat of New Mexico, testifies during the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on her nomination to be Interior Secretary on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on February 23, 2021. 

Former Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) called for the Senate to confirm Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) as Interior secretary in a USA Today op-ed Tuesday, saying accusations of political radicalism “motivated by something other than her record.”

The two argued that Haaland’s record on environmental issues is typical of a Democratic member of congress from a western state and that they had similar records in Congress that would be unlikely to prevent their confirmation.

“Rep. Haaland’s nomination is both historic and long overdue. If confirmed, she would be the first Native American Cabinet member,” the two former senators wrote.

“Her record is in line with mainstream conservation priorities. Thus, the exceptional criticism of Rep. Haaland and the threatened holds on her nomination must be motivated by something other than her record.”

Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) have both suggested they will oppose Haaland’s nomination, citing her positions on energy issues.

Previously, the progressive New Mexico representative has expressed support for the Green New Deal and opposition to a controversial oil and gas extraction method known as fracking. 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a key vote in the 50-50 Senate, has also suggested he has concerns about Haaland’s nomination. His hesitancy caught the ire of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who lambasted his comments on Tuesday, noting that the West Virginia senator voted to confirm then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The former lawmakers also went on to cite Stewart Udall, Mark’s uncle and Tom’s father, who served as Interior secretary during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. The two said that Stewart Udall told them that the West was built by people like Haaland. 

“He often reminded us that the West wasn’t built by gunslingers or lone rangers as told in films and novels. Instead, it was farmers, Native Americans, Hispanic and Anglo ranchers, and others who made it in those tough pioneering years by working together,” they wrote.

“We cannot think of anyone who embodies that truth more and has the ability to lead a newly energized Interior Department for all Americans than Congresswoman Haaland.” 

Haaland faced tough questions on Tuesday during her hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where she sought to court moderates including Manchin — the chairman of the committee who are weighing a vote on her confirmation. 

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Deb Haaland Jeff Sessions Joe Manchin John Barrasso Mark Udall Steve Daines Tom Udall

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