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Murkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted Thursday to advance the nomination of Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Dakota Access pipeline to remain in operation despite calls for shutdown | Biden hopes to boost climate spending by B | White House budget proposes .4B for environmental justice Haaland return sets up Biden decision on Utah national monuments shrunk by Trump Biden hopes to boost climate spending by billion MORE (D-N.M.) to lead the Interior Department, sending her nomination to the full Senate.

The panel voted 11-9 to approve Haaland’s nomination, with Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump looms large over GOP donor retreat in Florida Top GOP super PAC endorses Murkowski amid primary threat Biden-GOP infrastructure talks off to rocky start MORE (R-Alaska) siding with Democrats to support the nomination.

Haaland's nomination will now go to the full Senate, where she is expected to be confirmed barring Democratic defections. Confirmation for nominees requires a simple majority.

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The nomination has been contentious, with Republicans taking aim at Haaland's stances on fossil fuels and pledging to try to defeat her. GOP senators could also potentially delay her confirmation through procedural hurdles.

Murkowski is one of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee's swing votes, along with committee Chairman Joe ManchinJoe ManchinClose the avenues of foreign meddling Democrats see political winner in tax fight MSNBC's Joy Reid pans Manchin, Sinema as the 'no progress caucus' MORE (D-W.Va.). Murkowski, a senator from a major oil-producing state who was heavily lobbied by the industry to oppose the nomination, said she would back Haaland “despite some very real misgivings.”

"If you're listening, know that I intend to work with you because I want you to be successful. And quite honestly, we need you to be successful,” Murkowski said.

At least one other Republican, Maine Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Biden-GOP infrastructure talks off to rocky start Moderate GOP senators and Biden clash at start of infrastructure debate MORE, will support Haaland’s nomination, making her likely to be confirmed with at least a 52-48 majority.

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

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Haaland received praise from the panel’s Democrats, with Manchin hailing the significance of her nomination.

"230 years after Washington called his first Cabinet meeting, it is long past time to give a Native American woman a seat at the Cabinet table,” Manchin said.

"There are people all over Indian country who are so proud of [Haaland's] nomination," added Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellSenators urge Energy chief to prioritize cybersecurity amid growing threats Murkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination Regulators keep close eye on Facebook's deal with Australia MORE (D-Wash.). "They feel like they have been good stewards of public land for centuries before us."

But many of its Republican members criticized Haaland, with Sen. Jim RischJim Elroy RischGOP lawmakers block Biden assistance to Palestinians Lack of cyber funds in Biden infrastructure plan raises eyebrows The Hill's Morning Report - Biden shifts on filibuster MORE (R-Idaho) repeatedly pressing Haaland on whether she backed the Biden administration’s decision to halt the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Haaland initially simply said she “support[ed] President BidenJoe BidenBiden eyes bigger US role in global vaccination efforts Trump says GOP will take White House in 2024 in prepared speech Kemp: Pulling All-Star game out of Atlanta will hurt business owners of color MORE’s agenda,” prompting Risch to repeatedly directly ask her if she personally supported the cancellation and why.

“I’m not sure I have a full answer for you other than to say I know there are a lot of people in this country who care deeply about our environment and that is one area that folks have been passionate about,” Haaland responded.

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Committee ranking member John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSunday shows preview: Democrats eye passage of infrastructure bill; health experts warn of fourth coronavirus wave Lack of cyber funds in Biden infrastructure plan raises eyebrows As Congress considers infrastructure, don't forget rural America MORE (R-Wyo.) also asked Haaland about comments she had made in opposition to fossil fuel production and asked how she intended to advise Biden on the issue.

“The role of a congresswoman in one district in the country is much different from the role of a secretary who is fighting and working for every single American in all of our public lands across the country,” Haaland replied.

“We need to care as much about the environment as we do about the fossil fuel infrastructure in your states and other states, we need to balance those priorities,” she added. “If we have a mind to protect our public lands for future generations that we’ll also be able to protect jobs for future generations as well.”

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

She 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.

The Center for Native American Youth hailed the advancement of Haaland’s nomination in a statement.

“Native youth look to Representative Haaland as a role model, as a fierce defender of their rights and their communities, and as the living representation of the future of Indigenous communities in this country,” the group said.

“We urge the full Senate to promptly confirm Representative Haaland as the Secretary of the Interior. She will be a fierce advocate for all of us, in a way that no one else can."