Washington, March 16 : The US Senate has voted to confirm Deb Haaland, a Democratic Congresswoman from New Mexico, to serve as the first Native American Interior Secretary and thus oversee the country’s vast natural resources including tribal lands.
The confirmation vote on Monday was 51-40, with four Republican Senators crossing the party line to vote yes with all the Democratic Senators in attendance, reports Xinhua news agency.
Nine senators missed the vote.
The vote makes Haaland the first Native American to head a cabinet agency, who will assume office on Wednesday.
President Joe Biden’s nomination for Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, to run the Department of the Interior, won applause from progressive Democrats because of her opposition to a controversial fossil fuel extraction method known as fracking, as well as her support for the Green New Deal, a bold clean energy initiative championed by the progressives.
To assuage her critics’ concerns, Haaland said during her confirmation hearing that energy from fossil fuels “does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come,” meanwhile stressing the need to find a “balance” between fossil fuels and fighting climate change.
As for fracking, Haaland told Senators that it was her understanding that Biden does not seek a ban, echoing the President’s own words when he was attacked by his predecessor Donald Trump over the issue during the 2020 election.
“If I am confirmed as Secretary, I would be serving at the pleasure of the President and it would be his agenda that I would move forward,” Haaland said when repeatedly pressed by Steve Daines, Republican senator of Montana, to clarify her stance on fracking at the hearing.
Haaland’s supporters have touted the historic nature of her nomination in that the US now has the first Native American to lead an agency whose responsibility for the country’s 574 federally recognised tribes is considered to be significant.
“Before America’s public lands were America’s public lands, they were Native American lands, and Deb Haaland will be the first Native American to serve in any Ptesident’s cabinet and the first to serve as the secretary of this department, so that’s kind of a wonderful harmony with history,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat from Rhode Island, in a speech ahead of the vote.
In 2018, she and Sharice Davids of Kansas became the first two Native American women elected to Congress.
The Interior Department runs roughly one-fifth of land including more than 109 million acres of wilderness and 422 national park sites, as well as national monuments and wildlife refuges.
Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.