If confirmed as Interior Secretary, Deb Haaland would make history. As the New Mexico Congresswoman pointed out today in her Senate confirmation hearing: “If confirmed, I would be the first Native American to serve as Cabinet Secretary. This history nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say it’s not about me. Rather I hope this nomination would be an inspiration for Americans moving forward as one nation and creating opportunities for all of us.”
It became clear today that Haaland’s confirmation is far from a done deal. The Washington Post reports that the hearing “morphed Tuesday into a proxy fight over the future of fossil fuels as lawmakers from oil and gas producing states grilled Haaland about her past statements about the need to ban new drilling on federal lands and pivot toward green energy.”
Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, asked in rapid succession if the federal government should permit new gas wells and coal leases in state that relies heavily on them. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) said Haaland’s views “are frankly alarming” to her constituents, and asked what she would say to people who could lose jobs if oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was limited.
The Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Joe Manchin could again make or break the outcome here. Manchin has already made it clear he won’t vote to confirm President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden. NBC adds:
Haaland faces opposition from many Republicans and potentially some Democrats. Manchin, for example, is undecided on whether to support her nomination, his spokeswoman Sam Runyon told NBC News on Monday.
Support from Manchin is critical as Democrats can’t lose any of its members to ensure confirmation of President Joe Biden’s nominees. In addition, at least two Republicans on that committee, Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming and Steve Daines of Montana, have expressed strong reservations about Haaland.
Watch Haaland’s opening statement above.