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Biden nominates Interior deputy as department's top lawyer

Biden nominates Interior deputy as department's top lawyer
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President BidenJoe BidenBiden overruled Blinken, top officials on initial refugee cap decision: report Suicide bombing hits Afghan security forces Jim Jordan, Val Demings get in shouting match about police during hearing MORE has nominated Robert Anderson, the Interior Department’s principal deputy solicitor, to serve as the department’s solicitor, according to an announcement Wednesday.

Anderson, who has served in the deputy role since Biden’s inauguration, is the former director of the University of Washington’s Native American Law Center and an enrolled member of the Bois Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.

Anderson previously worked as Associate Solicitor for Indian Affairs and Counselor to the Secretary under President Clinton's Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, and served in roles on the transition agency review teams for president-elects Biden and Obama.

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His nomination follows the confirmation of Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandHaaland: Missing and murdered natives unit will have six times initial budget of DOJ task force Overnight Energy: Treasury creates hub to fight climate change through finance | Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez introduce 'Green New Deal for Public Housing' | Tomorrow's energy economy demands reform at the Interior Department MORE, the first Senate-confirmed indigenous Cabinet secretary in U.S. history. Tribal communities have expressed hope that Haaland at the helm of the department will mean increased focus on issues of particular importance to Native Americans.

“Bob has extensive legal expertise with regard to Native American Tribes, public lands, and water – all of which will help advance Interior’s mission to steward America's natural, cultural and historic resources and honor our nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes in accordance with the spirit and letter of the law,” Haaland said in a statement. “He is a thoughtful and trusted senior member of our team at Interior, with my deep confidence, and I look forward to his confirmation process.”

Anderson’s nomination comes as the Biden administration has yet to submit a nominee for deputy Interior secretary to the Senate. The White House had earlier tapped Elizabeth Klein for the position but pulled her name before formally submitting it in March.

Klein, a veteran of the Clinton and Obama Interior departments, worked as deputy director of the New York University School of Law’s State Energy & Environmental Impact Center during the Trump administration. She would likely have faced an uphill confirmation battle from Republicans due to her work challenging Trump-era environmental policies in court as part of her job at the center. Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump: GOP candidates need to embrace 'make America great' agenda if they want to win Republicans who backed Trump impeachment see fundraising boost Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats MORE (Alaska), one of four Republicans to back Haaland’s confirmation, reportedly found Klein’s energy positions to be a non-starter.