WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The historic nomination of Deb Haaland for Interior secretary has become one of the most contentious Biden cabinet confirmations.
If confirmed, Haaland will be the first Native American cabinet secretary.
“This historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me but I will say: it’s not about me,” said Haaland.
Haaland’s confirmation as Interior secretary has not been easy due to her outspoken position as a New Mexico lawmaker on oil, gas and coal.
“You said that if you had it your way, and I quote, you’d stop oil and gas leasing on public lands. As secretary, you will get to have it your way,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT).
Republican senators like Daines tried to sink Haaland’s nomination this week over the issue of fossil fuel leases on federal lands. Even West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin expressed concern.
Haaland told senators as Secretary of the Interior, she would carry out President Biden’s agenda — not her own.
“There’s no question that fossil energy does and will continue to play a role in America for years to come,” she said.
Her performance prompted Manchin to announce his support, to the relief of other Democrats.
“Our public lands, our natural resources, the places that we cherish out West and as a Coloradan, are going to be in tremendous hands,” said Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO).
“She’ll bring a new perspective to the Department of Interior. I’m excited to have her there because we want to protect our public lands for future generations,” said Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV).
Haaland will also be a liaison for Native tribes — communities whose health and way of life are especially impacted by the Interior Department’s management of some 1 million square miles of federal land.