Senate confirms Deb Haaland as Interior Secretary making her the first Native American cabinet head

 The Senate voted Monday to confirm Rep. Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior, making her the first Native American to lead a cabinet agency.  

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski joined with Democrats to get her over the line. The final vote was 51-40. 

Haaland, who was one of two Native American women to be elected to the House of Representatives in 2018, will play a central role in President Joe Biden's sweeping plans to combat climate change.  

Rep. Deb Haaland was confirmed Monday as President Joe Biden's Secretary of the Interior. Haaland is the first Native American woman to lead a cabinet agency

 Rep. Deb Haaland was confirmed Monday as President Joe Biden's Secretary of the Interior. Haaland is the first Native American woman to lead a cabinet agency

Four Republican senators joined Democrats in voting in favor of Rep. Deb Haaland's nomination to serve as Interior Secretary

Four Republican senators joined Democrats in voting in favor of Rep. Deb Haaland's nomination to serve as Interior Secretary

Deb Haaland confirmed as first Native American cabinet head
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Native American tribes and environmental groups campaigned for weeks to support her potentially historic confirmation, but she also faced resistance from western Republican lawmakers over her views on the oil industry.


Her contentious two-day hearing last month in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee became a referendum on fossil fuels extraction as Republican senators grilled her about her involvement in pipeline protests, her support of the Green New Deal climate resolution, and the Biden administration's pause on new federal drilling leases.

During the hearings, Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, asked Haaland why she had tweeted that Republicans don't believe in science. 

Haaland made the comment during October's vice presidential debate after then-Vice President Mike Pence refused to acknowledge climate change is man-made.  

Barrasso is a medical doctor. 


Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, was one of four GOP senators who voted for Haaland's confirmation

Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, was one of four GOP senators who voted for Haaland's confirmation 

'If you're a doctor, I would assume that you believe in science,' Haaland replied.  

Haaland will oversee polices guiding use of 500 million acres of federal and tribal land, a fifth of the nation's surface. 

A member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, Haaland would also oversee the U.S. government's relationship with some 574 federally recognized tribal nations.

'Given the long and troubled relationship between the federal government and tribal nations, the ascension of Rep. Haaland to the top of the Interior Department is a profoundly important moment for America,' Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week. 

He echoed that sentiment Monday on the Senate floor. 

'Rep. Haaland’s confirmation represents a gigantic step forward in creating a government that represents the full richness and diversity of this country - because Native Americans were, for far too long, neglected at the Cabinet level and in so many other places,' the New York Democrat said. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Haaland's confirmation vote 'a source of pride for the House.' 

'The Democratic Congress congratulates Secretary Haaland on her confirmation,' Pelosi said after the vote. 'We look forward to working with her to advance President Biden’s mission to ensure that we leave the next generation with a healthier, more sustainable planet and a better future for all.'

The National Parks Foundation President and CEO Will Shafroth said, 'We are confident that national parks and public lands will be in good hands under her leadership.' 

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