Haaland is expected to face a contentious confirmation hearing on Interior’s nomination


The Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico is a historic choice and she would be the first Native American cabinet secretary if confirmed by the Senate. But Democrats and White House officials told CNN they anticipate the audience could become tense, and some Republicans have already spoken out against what they call their “extreme” and “radical” views on energy issues. and environmental.

A key question for the future of her nomination is whether Joe Manchin, the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and one of the more conservative Senate Democrats, will support her. Manchin does not anticipate the audience; He has not yet said whether he will vote to confirm Haaland.

Manchin said Monday: “We are very open to hearing her and we hope she has a good audition.”

Haaland is ready to highlight her landmark nomination during the hearing, saying, “The historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say that it is not about me. Rather, I hope this nomination is an inspiration to Americans: moving forward together as a nation and create opportunity for us all, “according to a copy of his opening remarks provided by the Department of the Interior.

Haaland is also expected to directly thank Manchin for convening the hearing and “sharing with me the problems and needs of the people he represents in West Virginia.”

An official with the confirmation process told CNN that Democrats are defending Haaland who focuses on his bipartisan legislative record and his extensive work with public lands and wildlife. Perhaps most importantly, expect his supporters to argue that Haaland believes that all jobs are important and that oil, gas and coal jobs will continue to be an important part of America’s economy as we transition to a clean energy future.

Republicans have repeatedly said that the Biden administration will cut jobs through its clean energy agenda, which Haaland supports. Democrats plan to counter that Haaland’s home state of New Mexico relies on oil and gas revenues to fund its schools and help its economy.

Manchin has yet to show his letters on the nomination, saying in a January interview with E&E News that Haaland “has a slightly different agenda than ours” and, “I want to make sure the Department of the Interior can continue to contribute as usual. he has done it with our country. “

Manchin was asked about the ban on fracking on public lands and whether it could affect Haaland’s nomination, and said that a ban on fracking “would be detrimental to her or anyone else.”

Republicans have expressed concern about his stance against new leases for drilling for oil and gas on federal land and that he has supported the Green New Deal, a progressive policy proposal championed by progressive Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez of New York. Haaland has said in the past that he “wholeheartedly” opposes fracking and drilling on public land and is a House co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution.

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn recently tweeted: “Home Secretary candidate has joined pipeline protests and opposed fracking,” in a possible preview of how Republicans may attack the nomination.

A group of House Republicans asked Biden to withdraw the nomination in a letter last month, citing his position on the Green New Deal and the leasing of oil and gas on federal land.

“The nomination of Representative Haaland is a direct threat to workers and a rejection of responsible development of America’s natural resources,” the letter warned.

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House Republicans will not have the right to vote in the Senate confirmation process, but members of their party in the upper house are likely to echo the arguments against the nomination.

Supporters and detractors of the nomination have been working to lobby his case before the hearing.

The Global Indigenous Council and the Rocky Mountain Council of Tribal Leaders have launched a campaign in support of Haaland in states that represent key Senate votes and where senators have voiced criticism of the nomination.

Billboards have been put up with Haaland in Montana, where Republican Senator Steve Daines has said he is “concerned” about the nomination, and they will also appear in West Virginia, Wyoming, Utah and South Dakota.

Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, said in a statement before the confirmation hearing: “Representative Deb Haaland has shown hostility towards the oil and natural gas development that sustains the state and district she represents.”

The confirmation hearing comes as several other high-profile Biden nominees have come under scrutiny.

Biden’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, is in danger as she faces criticism for her past partisan rhetoric on social media. And Xavier Becerra, chosen by Biden as secretary of Health and Human Services, is expected to face harsh questioning at a confirmation hearing Tuesday. Becerra’s choice has been controversial from the start, in part because she has no direct healthcare experience.

If confirmed, Haaland would be part of Biden’s plan to address the climate crisis and reduce carbon emissions. Biden has proposed an ambitious climate agenda that seeks to end carbon emissions from power plants by 2035 and proposes broader public investment in green infrastructure, including $ 2 trillion for clean energy projects.

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The United States Department of the Interior preserves and manages the nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage, and oversees the federal government’s relations with Native American tribes.

The nomination marked a major victory for an alliance of progressive and indigenous leaders who campaigned relentlessly to elevate one of their own to a powerful federal seat that oversees natural resources, public lands and indigenous affairs.

Haaland represents New Mexico’s first congressional district, covering most of Albuquerque. She made history in 2018 when she was elected as one of the first two Native American women in Congress.

Haaland’s fierce advocacy for climate justice policy and indigenous rights has made her an advocate for the new left.

Before running for Congress in 2018, Haaland, a single mother, joined protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline project, which was designed to pass 1,200 miles from North Dakota to Illinois. The pipeline was routed under a reservoir near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, prompting legal challenges and eventually mass demonstrations and a camp that brought together indigenous and environmental activists from across the country.

“A voice like mine has never been a cabinet secretary or head of the Department of the Interior,” Haaland tweeted in December. “Growing up in my mother Pueblo’s house made me fierce. I will be fierce for all of us, our planet and all of our protected land. I feel honored and ready to serve.”

CNN’s Kate Sullivan, Liz Stark, Greg Krieg and Jasmine Wright contributed to this report.

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