Senate Confirms a New Interior Secretary

The Story:

Former Congresswoman Deb Haaland is now a cabinet member, the Secretary of the Interior, after a vote Monday, March 15. Most Democrats in the Senate, and four Republicans, voted in her favor.

Background:

Haaland, a Laguna Pueblo, is the first Native America to lead a cabinet agency. Since the 2018 election she has served in House representing 1st district, New Mexico. Before that, she was the state chair for the Democratic Party.

The Republicans who supported her confirmation in the Senate were: Lisa Murkowski (Al); Dan Sullivan (Al); Susan Collins (Me);  and Lindsey Graham (SC). Most of the Republicans voted no in the belief that Haaland is too extreme a climate-change activist and so an opponent of the fossil fuel industries.

The Thing to Know: 

Senator Murkowski’s vote to confirm is the most fascinating here. Murkowski has long been a defender of the fossil-fuel industries, and Alaskan politics in general is tied to the oil industry. But she broke with her party and with that industry to support Haaland largely, it seems, for reasons of identity politics. Native Americans constitute a large demographic in Alaska, and spokespeople for that demographic have certainly been very clear in recent weeks on what they thought Murkowski ought to do on that issue.

 

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