WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Monday confirmed New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland as inside secretary, making her the primary Native American to guide a Cupboard division and the primary to guide the federal company that has wielded affect over the nation’s tribes for almost two centuries.
Haaland was confirmed by a 51-40 vote.
Democrats and tribal teams hailed Haaland’s affirmation as historic, saying her choice signifies that Indigenous individuals — who lived in North America earlier than the US was created — will for the primary time see a Native American lead the highly effective division the place choices on relations with the almost 600 federally acknowledged tribes are made. Inside additionally oversees a bunch of different points, together with vitality growth on public lands and waters, nationwide parks and endangered species.
“Rep. Haaland’s affirmation represents a big step ahead in making a authorities that represents the complete richness and variety of this nation,” mentioned Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
“Native People for much too lengthy have been uncared for on the Cupboard degree and in so many different locations,” Schumer mentioned.
Haaland’s nomination has been intently watched by tribal communities throughout the nation, with some digital events drawing tons of of individuals to look at her two-day affirmation listening to final month.
Supporters projected a photograph of Haaland, a two-term congresswoman who represents higher Albuquerque, on the facet of the Inside constructing in downtown Washington with textual content that learn “Our Ancestors’ Desires Come True.”
Many Native People see Haaland, 60, as somebody who will elevate their voices and shield the setting and tribes’ rights. Her choice break a two-century sample of non-Native officers, largely male, serving as the highest federal official over American Indian affairs. The federal authorities typically labored to dispossess tribes of their land and, till lately, to assimilate them into white tradition.
“It’s long gone time that an American Indian function the secretary of the Inside,” mentioned Fawn Sharp, president of the Nationwide Congress of American Indians, the nation’s oldest and largest tribal group.
“The nation wants her management and imaginative and prescient to assist lead our response to local weather change, to steward our lands and cultural sources and to make sure that throughout the federal authorities, the US lives as much as its belief and treaty obligations to tribal nations and our residents,” Sharp mentioned.
Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, referred to as Haaland’s affirmation “an unprecedented and monumental day for all first individuals of this nation. Phrases can not categorical how overjoyed and proud we’re to see considered one of our personal confirmed to serve on this high-level place.″
Haaland’s affirmation “units us on a greater path to righting the wrongs of the previous with the federal authorities and conjures up hope in our individuals, particularly our younger individuals,” Nez added.
Not everybody was celebrating. Some Republican senators have criticized Haaland’s views on oil drilling and different vitality growth as “radical” and excessive, citing her opposition to the Keystone XL oil pipeline and her assist for the Inexperienced New Deal, a sweeping, if largely aspirational, coverage to handle local weather change and earnings inequality.
Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the highest Republican on the Senate Power and Pure Sources Committee, mentioned Haaland’s “excessive views” and assist of “catastrophic laws” such because the Inexperienced New Deal would make her affirmation as inside secretary disastrous, harming America’s vitality provide and economic system.
“American jobs are being sacrificed within the title of the Biden agenda, and Rep. Haaland couldn’t defend it,” Barrasso mentioned, referring to choices by President Joe Biden to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and impose a moratorium on new oil and gasoline leases on federal lands.
Barrasso additionally faulted Haaland’s assist for continued safety for grizzly bears within the Yellowstone area of the Rocky Mountains, regardless of a advice by the Fish and Wildlife Service that about 700 bears in components of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho now not want protections.
“Rep. Haaland has chosen to disregard the science and the scientists of the very division that she is now nominated to guide,” Barrasso mentioned, calling on Inside to take away protections for the grizzly underneath the Endangered Species Act.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., mentioned she appreciates Haaland’s management within the Home on a variety of points, including that Haaland’s standing as a Native American “will give us an additional benefit on (tribal) points which can be so essential to Indian Nation general.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, mentioned she had “some actual misgivings” about Haaland due to her views on oil drilling and different vitality points, however mentioned Native Alaskans, an essential constituency in her rural state, had urged her to again Haaland.
“Fairly actually, we’d like (Haaland) to be a hit,″ Murkowski mentioned.
Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., mentioned he was disenchanted on the rhetoric utilized by Barrasso and different Republicans. Heinrich, who lives in Haaland’s district, mentioned she “all the time has an open door and an open thoughts” to a variety of views.
Related Press writers Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Ariz., and Matthew Brown in Billings, Mont., contributed to this story.