Rep. Deb HaalandDebra HaalandHaaland backers ask Udall to step aside in bid for Interior post Biden picks leave Democrats with slimmest House majority in modern history House Democrats introduce bill to address diversity at State Department MORE (D-N.M.) on Friday stressed the importance of having Native American representation in government — nodding to the role she could play in a Biden administration that has come under increased pressure to select her to lead the Interior Department.
“I think it’s wonderful that our country is progressing in that manner, that a Cabinet-level position filled by a Native American is a conversation that we’re having right now,” Haaland said in a Washington Post Live event.
If selected to lead the Interior Department, Haaland would be the first Native American to hold a Cabinet-level position.
She would also be in charge of an agency that has often fallen short in its responsibilities to tribes.
Haaland specifically called out the Trump administration for building the border wall along lands sacred to Native Americans and for shrinking national monuments of importance to tribes like Bears Ears.
“We have to include Native Americans in the conversation because this was all Indian country at one time,” she said. “They deserve to be consulted when decisions about our public lands are made. We’ve seen that play out in real time during this administration and what happens when you don’t consult tribes.”
Native American and progressive groups have upped their insistence that President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden and Harris named Time’s 2020 ‘Person of the Year’ US to sanction Turkey over Russian defense system: report Federal government executes Brandon Bernard despite last-minute appeals MORE pick Haaland, urging another contender on the shortlist, Sen. Tom UdallTom UdallHaaland backers ask Udall to step aside in bid for Interior post OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA proposes reapproving uses of pesticide linked to brain damage in children | Hispanic caucus unhappy with transition team treatment of Lujan Grisham | Schwarzenegger backs Nichols to lead EPA Hispanic caucus unhappy with transition team treatment of Lujan Grisham MORE (D-N.M.), to step aside and back his New Mexican colleague.
But Biden is also weighing another Native American, Obama-era Interior Deputy Secretary Michael Connor, for the job.
Haaland dodged the question, however, when asked if Connor’s potential appointment would carry the same significance.
“What I’ll say is I worked extremely hard to make sure that Joe Biden won this election. And I am going to support whoever President-elect Biden chooses for any Cabinet position, it’ll be my job in Congress, or wherever I am to make sure that this administration is a success. And I’m committed to that,” she said.