HAALAND HEARINGS END WITHOUT VOTE
Committee chair says he will support President Joe Biden’s nomination of U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico to be Interior secretary.
Asked why she wanted to become the next secretary of the Department of the Interior, Rep. Deb Haaland referenced the Navajo Code Talkers, saying the group used the Navajo word for “Our Mother” as code for United States. “I feel very strongly that sums up what we’re dealing with,” she told senators on the committee considering her nomination.
“This is all of our country. This is our mother. You’ve heard the Earth referred to as Mother Earth. It’s difficult to not feel obligated to protect this land,” Haaland said. “And I feel every Indigenous person in the country understands that.”
For a second day in a row, Haaland fielded questions from members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that is considering her nomination to be interior secretary.
Republican senators threatened to filibuster, repeated their questions and raised their voices when questioning Haaland. They objected to the New Mexico Democrat’s previous statements about the fossil fuel industry and fracking on public lands.
The hearing came to a close without members taking a vote on Haaland’s nomination. The Associated Press reported later Wednesday that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, the committee chair, said he will vote to confirm Haaland.
That’s a key vote for Haaland on her way to becoming the first Native American to head a Cabinet agency.
Through two days of hearings, Haaland made the case that the fossil fuel energy will be used for years
to come. She said she has a record of successful bipartisan work, citing her sponsorship of a bill that aims to address violence against Native American women. And she repeatedly said she would work to carry out President Joe Biden’s agenda, not her own.
When she was challenged about previous statements she’s made about environmental issues — such as saying she supports bans on fracking and animal trapping — she said her role as a congresswoman is different from the one she is poised to take. She said she’ll gather data and be guided by science when issues come across her desk. At one point, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, raised his voice after Haaland deflected a question about the Endangered Species Act.
“Being a secretary is far different from being a member of Congress,” she said.
Last month, President Biden issued an executive order to indefinitely pause all new leasing activity on public lands so the U.S. Department of the Interior could review leasing and permitting processes. Asked about that pause Wednesday, Haaland said it won’t be permanent.
“The pause that President Biden has put on the new permits pending review; the review is not going to last forever,” Haaland said. “This pause is just that, a pause. It’s not going to be a permanent thing where we’re restricting all these lands.”
New Mexico Democratic Party Chair Marg Elliston said after Wednesday’s hearing concluded that Haaland demonstrated over two days that she’s the right person for the position.
“It’s clear that she will continue to make New Mexicans proud as a voice for all those who cherish and value our nation’s natural resources,” she said.
Larry Behrens, Western states director of Power the Future, a group that has opposed renewable energy mandates, said in a statement after the hearing that Haaland appeared to be dodging questions.
“Deb Haaland has a long record of radical statements and actions, but for the last two days she would have us believe she doesn’t have a position on critical issues facing New Mexico and the rest of the nation,” he said. “Deb Haaland is pretending to be someone else during these hearings, and it’s clear some of the senators aren’t convinced.”