Senate confirms Haaland to lead Interior

The Senate on Monday voted to confirm Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandSenate panel advances Biden's deputy Interior pick Interior secretary approves new Cherokee constitution providing citizenship rights for freedmen Carter sworn in as House member to replace Richmond, padding Democrats' majority MORE (D-N.M.) to lead the Interior Department, making her the nation’s first Native American Cabinet secretary. 

The Senate voted 51-40 to confirm Haaland. Nine members missed the vote.

GOP Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP governors move to cut unemployment benefits as debate rages over effects Trump critics push new direction for GOP Graham warns about trying to 'drive' Trump from GOP: 'Half the people will leave' MORE (S.C.), Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanHillicon Valley: Global cybersecurity leaders say they feel unprepared for attack | Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan | Senate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech Kerry denies allegations from leaked Iran tapes OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court considers whether US should pay for Guam hazardous waste cleanup | EPA eyes reversal of Trump revocation of California vehicle emissions waiver | Kerry faces calls to step down over leaked Iran tapes MORE (Alaska), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate panel deadlocks over Biden pick to lead DOJ civil rights division Senate GOP dismayed by vote to boot Cheney Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP MORE (Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMasks shed at White House; McConnell: 'Free at last' Senate GOP dismayed by vote to boot Cheney The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE (Maine) backed Haaland along with the Democrats in attendance.


In a tweet, Haaland thanked the Senate for confirming her. 

"As Secretary of @Interior, I look forward to collaborating with all [of] you. I am ready to serve. #BeFierce," she wrote. 

Haaland’s opposition to a controversial method of fossil fuel extraction called fracking, participation in a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline and support for the Green New Deal have made her a favorite among progressives but drawn ire from some Republicans. 

GOP Sens. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesGOP senator urges Biden to withdraw support for COVID vaccine patent waiver Overnight Energy: 5 takeaways from the Colonial Pipeline attack | Colonial aims to 'substantially' restore pipeline operations by end of week | Three questions about Biden's conservation goals House conservatives take aim at Schumer-led bipartisan China bill MORE (Mont.) and Cynthia LummisCynthia Marie LummisHillicon Valley: Global cybersecurity leaders say they feel unprepared for attack | Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan | Senate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan Senate votes to repeal OCC 'true lender' rule MORE (Wyo.) had placed holds on her nomination, with Daines invoking Haaland's positions on pipelines and fossil fuels and Lummis invoking President BidenJoe BidenFauci says school should be open 'full blast' five days a week in the fall Overnight Defense: Military sexual assault reform bill has votes to pass in Senate l First active duty service member arrested over Jan. 6 riot l Israeli troops attack Gaza Strip Immigration experts say GOP senators questioned DHS secretary with misleading chart MORE's pause on new leasing for oil and gas development on federal lands. 

During her confirmation hearing, Daines specifically pressed Haaland on her stances on fracking and pipelines in general and particularly Biden's decision to revoke a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline as well as his leasing suspension. 

Haaland’s supporters touted the historic nature of her confirmation and the importance of having a Native American at the helm of an agency with significant responsibility to the country’s 574 federally recognized tribes. 


"Before America's public lands were America's public lands, they were Native American lands, and Deb Haaland will be the first Native American to serve in any president's Cabinet and the first to serve as the secretary of this department, so that's kind of a wonderful harmony with history," said Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseJudge's decision on Barr memo puts spotlight on secretive DOJ office On The Money: Incomes, consumer spending soared in March | Harris, senators work behind scenes on jobs package | Biden cancels some border wall construction Harris, senators work behind scenes on jobs package MORE (D-R.I.) in a speech ahead of the vote.

The U.S. has had a Native American vice president, Charles Curtis, who served from 1929 to 1933, but has never had an Indigenous Cabinet secretary.

Haaland also sought to persuade critics that she would play a different role as Interior secretary, saying that energy from fossil fuels “does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come” while stressing the need to find a “balance” between fossil fuels and fighting climate change. 

She said that the president’s pause on leasing publicly owned lands and waters for oil and gas development would not be a “permanent thing.”

Facing questions about her stances on pipelines and fracking, Haaland said that she would be tasked with implementing Biden’s agenda, not her own.  

Biden has said that he will not ban fracking and does not support the Green New Deal. 

After the vote, Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoBiden says he and GOP both 'sincere about' seeking infrastructure compromise Senate panel advances Biden's deputy Interior pick The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden expresses optimism on bipartisanship; Cheney ousted MORE (R-Wyo.), another vocal opponent of the confirmation, said in a statement that Haaland's views are "extreme."

"Representative Haaland’s extreme policy views, lack of substantive answers during the confirmation process, and full support for President Biden’s war on American energy disqualify her for the job of Interior Secretary,” he said. “Her views on American energy fly in the face of the mission of the Department of the Interior."

Ahead of the vote, Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) said they would support Haaland’s nomination, while Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Sullivan signaled possible support when they backed Haaland during a procedural vote last week. 

Murkowski and Collins noted when they announced their support for Haaland that they don’t agree with her on every issue, but they have brought up matters such as her support for bipartisan conservation legislation and the historic significance of her confirmation.

Murkowski told pool reporters Monday that she still had some doubts.

"I wish that I could say, 'yes, I've got every degree of confidence.' I don't so my obligation is to make sure I am on top of this all the time," she said.


But the Alaska Republican also discussed the history being made. 

"It was significant that you have a Native American woman who will be in a position really oversee, if you will, those lands that are part of their homeland," she said. "There is clearly that sense of pride, but as important as that is, it is more important that a woman who has achieved this historic position then lives up to it."

Sullivan, meanwhile, released a statement calling the vote one of the "most difficult I have made during my time in the U.S. Senate" but said he felt he could better advocate for Alaskans at the Interior Department if he voted to confirm Haaland. 

"Our state’s economy and our working families are under pressure, stress and assault due to the pandemic and the Biden administration’s initial hostile actions against Alaska and our resource development sector," Sullivan said." I believe that my vote to confirm Congresswoman Haaland as Secretary of the Interior may enhance my ability to successfully advocate for a ceasefire in the Biden administration’s war on the Alaska economy and working families. "

Haaland is expected to play a key role in Biden’s efforts to have the United States reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and in conserving a total of 30 percent of the country’s lands and waters by 2030. 

Haaland, asked during her confirmation hearing whether the “30 by 30” effort would seek to conserve all lands or just those that are federally owned, said the initiative would be “not just relegated to public lands.” 


The Center for American Progress, a left-wing think tank, estimated in 2018 that the country had conserved 12 percent of its lands. 

During her confirmation hearing, Haaland said her priorities will include promoting clean energy and clean energy jobs, increasing access to broadband internet in Native American communities, and dealing with missing and murdered indigenous women.

She also stressed opportunities for jobs related to taking care of abandoned mines and plugging orphaned gas wells as well as Biden’s pledge to create a Civilian Climate Corps, which would create jobs conserving public lands and increasing reforestation.

“I believe there are millions of jobs in a clean energy future for Americans, and if I’m confirmed, I’d be honored to help the president move those forward,” she said at the time.

Haaland was first elected to Congress in 2018 and was one of the two first Native American congresswomen. Representing New Mexico’s 1st District, she also served as vice chairwoman of the Natural Resources Committee and chaired its Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

"As former vice chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, Deb Haaland also brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her role as Interior secretary," said Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) in a floor speech on Monday. "But of all of the qualifications and accomplishments that Deb Haaland will bring to the Department of Interior, there's one that stands out to those who know her best: her empathy." 

—Updated at 8:16 p.m.