Energy & Environment

Susan Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Wednesday became the first Republican senator to say she will vote to confirm Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), President Biden's nominee to lead the Interior Department.

"After examining Representative Deb Haaland's qualifications, reviewing her hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and meeting with her personally, I will vote to confirm her to be the Secretary of the Department of the Interior," Collins said in a statement.

She cited Haaland's work on a bipartisan conservation bill that passed last year as one reason for her support. 

"While we certainly have different views on some issues, her role in helping to shepherd the Great American Outdoors Act through the House will be beneficial to the Department's implementation of this landmark conservation law, which I cosponsored. I also appreciate Representative Haaland's willingness to support issues important to the State of Maine, such as Acadia National Park, as well as her deep knowledge of tribal issues," the senator said.

Her statement came amid questions about whether Haaland, whose opponents have sought to paint her as radical, would have any bipartisan support.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the most moderate Senate Democrat, has already said that he would back the nomination, making it appear that she would have enough support from her own party to secure the confirmation.

There still could be a bit of a battle over the nomination, with Sen. Steve Daines's (R-Mont.) office recently saying in a statement that it would seek to "block and defeat" her nomination.

The Montana senator can delay her confirmation by putting a hold on the nomination, but as long as she has a simple majority, her nomination would overcome that procedural hurdle. 

If confirmed, Haaland will be the first Native American Cabinet secretary, and she'll oversee a department with significant responsibilities to the country's federally recognized tribes.

During her confirmation hearing last week, Haaland said that her priorities will include appreciating career employees, promoting clean energy and clean energy jobs and working on broadband internet in Indian Country and dealing with missing and murdered indigenous women.

Haaland also acknowledged that fossil fuels "will continue to play a major role in America for years to come" and that this needs to be balanced with combating climate change. 

Updated at 9:17 a.m.

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