Progressives celebrate historic Haaland vote
Progressives on Monday celebrated Deb Haaland’s historic confirmation to lead the Interior Department after the Senate voted to make her the first Native American Cabinet secretary.
As she assumes the role following the 51-40 vote, Haaland will oversee a department with significant responsibilities to the country’s 574 federally recognized tribes, as well as with significant responsibilities over federal lands and waters.
The New Mexico Democrat’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 advocates, who vocally supported her nomination.
“We are thrilled that Secretary Deb Haaland was confirmed to the Presidential Cabinet,” Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, said in a statement. “Now, she must wield her power to crack down on fossil fuel corporations and evict companies that drill for oil on public lands and in public waters. We are excited to see the progress she makes.”
The Sunrise Movement and the group Justice Democrats together listed Haaland as their top choice to lead the department before President Biden announced he had chosen her.
Another advocate for Haaland, Julian Brave NoiseCat, tweeted “She won. We won.”
“In a historic vote, the Senate confirms Deb Haaland of the Laguna Pueblo and first district of New Mexico the next Interior Secretary. #DebForInterior,” added NoiseCat, who is the vice president of policy and strategy at progressive group Data for Progress.
In Congress, Haaland’s progressive colleagues similarly cheered her on.
“The confirmation of Sec. Deb Haaland is a historic step toward redeeming our nation’s relationship with first Americans,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee.
“Sec. Haaland will bring to the Interior Department and the Biden administration a profound responsibility and commitment to climate change, equity, and public actions that all Americans will benefit from. Sec. Haaland has made history for her people, and now she will help guide our shared history. I look forward to her leadership and resolve,” Grijalva said.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), for whom Haaland was a presidential campaign co-chair, similarly noted that the nomination was historic because she will lead a department that “did so much through the generations to try to undercut the strength, the health, the survival, of the tribal nations.”
“This is about having someone who has this moment where she actually can reset the relationship between the United States and the tribal nations,” Warren told MSNBC.
My friend @DebHaalandNM believes in preserving our public lands for generations to come. And she can help the federal government honor its promises to tribal nations. She’s going to be an incredible @Interior Secretary. #DebForInterior pic.twitter.com/eSWGsCNM01
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 15, 2021
However, the same policy positions that garnered her progressive support also drew strong opposition from many Republicans.
“Representative Haaland has a hostile record toward made in America energy, natural resource development, and wildlife and land management. She has enthusiastically called for a ban on all new pipelines and is a leading cosponsor of the Green New Deal. I have serious concerns about how Rep. Haaland will use this position in ways that negatively impact the Montana way of life,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who has vocally opposed the nomination.
Haaland said during her confirmation hearing repeatedly stressed that she was implementing President Biden’s nomination, not her own. The president does not support a fracking ban or the Green New Deal.
She also acknowledged that fossil fuels will continue to play a role and stressed finding a “balance” between that and combatting climate change.
After she was confirmed, Haaland said in a tweet that she is “ready to serve.”
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