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Senate confirms Deb Haaland as Biden’s Interior secretary in historic vote

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The vote was 51 to 40, with most Republicans voting against it after several said their views on public land use and fossil fuels were extreme.

It was not the first time Haaland had made history. In 2018 she was elected as one of the first two Native American women in Congress. His appointment to lead the Department of the Interior was a victory for an alliance of progressives and indigenous leaders who campaigned to elevate one of their own to a powerful federal seat that oversees natural resources, public lands and affairs. indis. Haaland will be part of Biden’s plan to tackle the climate crisis and reduce carbon emissions.
During his confirmation hearings, Haaland stood out his nomination to history, saying, “The historical nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say it is not about me. Rather, I hope this nomination will be an inspiration to Americans: move forward together as one nation and create opportunities for all of us. “

Speaking about his motivation to take the job, he said, “It’s hard not to feel compelled to protect this land, and I think all the indigenous people in this country understand that,” he added, it means protecting it in every way. “

Four Republicans – sensational Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine and Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – joined all Democrats in voting for her.

Republicans who oppose Haaland’s nomination highlighted previous comments he made about fossil fuels and responses they considered insufficient at his confirmation hearing. Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican and GOP member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee ranking, spoke Thursday in opposition to the nomination.

“Representative Haaland’s policy views and lack of substantial responses during his confirmation hearing, in my view, disqualify her for this job,” Barrasso said, referring to past comments he made, including during a 2019 interview with The guardian where he stated that he is “wholeheartedly” opposed to fracking and drilling on public land.
“In my view and in the opinion of my constituents, these views are extreme,” she said, adding that her views are “supported by the legislation she has sponsored” and noted that she has been a sponsor. the Green New Deal resolution at home.

During his confirmation hearings, Haaland tried to strike a delicate balance in energy and environmental policy, saying, “There is no doubt that fossil energy will and will continue to play an important role in America for years to come.” But, he added, “we need to address our climate challenge” and stated that “the Department has a role to play in harnessing the net energy potential of our public lands to create jobs and new economic opportunities.”

On several occasions, Haaland declined to give his personal views on questions from Republican senators, indicating instead that he would work for Biden’s service to carry out his administration’s agenda.

Montana Sen. Steve Daines of Montana asked Haaland at one point, “Do you support the ban on fracking and no new pipelines?” She replied, “President Biden does not support the ban on fracking is what I understand.” Daines insisted on the issue again and Haaland said, “If they confirm me as secretary, it would serve the president’s pleasure and it would be his program that would move forward.”

Despite Republican opposition, Democrats have praised and praised Haaland for being qualified for the post.

Senator Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, spoke in favor of his appointment in a Senate speech, saying, “I trust she is the leader we need in the Interior to take on the important task of restoring our landscapes, opening new outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans and working our public lands to tackle the climate crisis. ”

Repeating criticism from the Republican Party, Heinrich said Haaland’s views “fall within the mainstream and fairly represent many of its members, I would say the vast majority of its members.”

“I look forward to the Senate finally assuming Congresswoman Haaland’s confirmation so she can work on protecting our natural heritage for future generations,” he said.

This story and title have been updated to reflect additional news on Monday.

CNN’s Gregory Krieg contributed to this report.

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