House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) is backing fellow committee member Rep. Deb HaalandDebra HaalandDeb Haaland says ‘of course’ she would serve as Interior secretary under Biden OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior shortlist puts focus on New Mexico lawmakers | Progressives criticize Biden transition over volunteer who represented Exxon | Trump DOJ appointees stalled investigation into Zinke: report Progressives unveil Biden Cabinet wish list MORE (D-N.M.) as the Biden campaign considers nominating her to be the next secretary of the Interior.
Grijalva, who had been recommended for the top Interior position by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, shared a letter with members Monday saying he is no longer interested in the role, preferring to continue his work through his chairmanship.
Instead, he urged committee members to put their weight behind Haaland, who would make history as the first-ever Native American Interior secretary.
“It is well past time that an Indigenous person brings history full circle at the Department of Interior. As her colleague on the Natural Resources Committee, I have seen first-hand the passion and dedication she puts into these issues at the forefront of the Interior Department from tackling the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women to crafting thoughtful solutions to combating the climate crisis using America’s public lands,” Grijalva wrote in the letter obtained by The Hill.
“It should go without saying, Rep. Haaland is absolutely qualified to do the job,” he added.
For Haaland, the backing of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus could be significant, particularly as the Democratic Party looks for ways to address faltering support from key demographics, including Latinos.
It could also help Haaland compete against outgoing Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallSenate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior shortlist puts focus on New Mexico lawmakers | Progressives criticize Biden transition over volunteer who represented Exxon | Trump DOJ appointees stalled investigation into Zinke: report Interior shortlist puts focus on New Mexico lawmakers, tribal issues MORE (D-N.M.) who is also being considered for the job.
Udall, whose father held the role during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, has worked on Interior issues for much of his time in the Senate and may face an easier confirmation path with support from colleagues.
His office recently released a document detailing his conservation work during his time in office. One of his bills, which would conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030, has been incorporated into President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenObama: US ‘adversaries have seen us weakened’ US sees 1M new coronavirus cases in one week GOP shows limited appetite for pursuing Biden probes MORE’s climate plan.