Indigenous groups are putting pressure on senators with billboards posted in multiple states urging them to confirm Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandThe Memo: Biden faces first major setback as Tanden teeters OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms former Michigan governor Granholm as Energy secretary | GOP bill would codify Trump rule on financing for fossil fuels, guns | Kennedy apologizes for calling Haaland a ‘whack job’ Kennedy apologizes for calling Haaland a ‘whack job’ MORE (D-N.M.) to lead the Interior Department.
The billboards have gone up in West Virginia, Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota, home of Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinMinimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster Biden ‘disappointed’ in Senate parliamentarian ruling but ‘respects’ decision House Democrats to keep minimum wage hike in COVID-19 relief bill for Friday vote MORE (D), John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSenate confirms former Michigan governor Granholm as Energy secretary Haaland courts moderates during tense Senate confirmation hearing Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated ‘by something other than her record’ MORE (R), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesKennedy apologizes for calling Haaland a ‘whack job’ The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by The AIDS Institute – Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help Biden’s picks face peril in 50-50 Senate MORE (R) and Mike RoundsMike RoundsPowell pushes back on GOP inflation fears Overnight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden’s .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March 11 GOP senators slam Biden pick for health secretary: ‘No meaningful experience’ MORE (R), respectively. Daines in particular has been one of Haaland’s most vocal opponents.
The black and white billboards show images of Haaland and say “The First People to receive this land, the last to receive the vote” and “Our First Secretary of the Interior, Support Rep. Deb Haaland.”
Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, would be the first Native American Cabinet secretary, and oversee a department with significant responsibilities to the tribes.
The advertisements were put up by the Global Indigenous Council (GIC) and Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council.
Tom Rodgers, president of the GIC, said he did not like how many of the senators treated Haaland during the hearing, and he wanted the billboards to be a lesson. He added that others, like Manchin, were courteous, so his billboard, which went up before he announced his support for Haaland, served a slightly different purpose.
“For the senators who’ve either by their behavior or their questions or their statements have indicated their opposition to Deb, that is to teach them a teachable moment for history,” Rodgers said.
Senators grilled Haaland on a series of issues including her energy stances, as well as a tweet saying that Republicans don’t believe in science.
Asked about the billboards, Barrasso said that Haaland did not sufficiently answer questions during the hearing.
“Rep. Haaland struggled to answer or refused to answer the basic questions any nominee for the Department of Interior would be expected to answer. My constituents deserve straight answers from the potential secretary about the law, and the rules and regulations that will affect their lives and their future livelihoods,” he said.
Daines spokesperson Katie Schoettler said in an email that the senator “respects the feedback from all Montanans.”
“He has a strong relationship with Montana’s tribes, including fighting to help settle a century long water dispute, championing Tribal inclusion in COVID funding, as well as being instrumental in getting Tribal recognition for Montana’s Little Shell Tribe,” Schoettler said. “The Senator’s opposition to Rep. Haaland is about the Congresswoman’s ideological agenda that will hurt the Montana way of life and kill Montana jobs.”
She also noted that some local leaders in the state have expressed opposition to the nomination.
Some of Haaland’s opponents have sought to portray her as “radical,” invoking stances she has such as opposing a controversial oil and gas extraction method called fracking. Haaland stressed that she’ll be implementing President BidenJoe BidenBiden ‘disappointed’ in Senate parliamentarian ruling but ‘respects’ decision Taylor Swift celebrates House passage of Equality Act Donald Trump Jr. calls Bruce Springsteen’s dropped charges ‘liberal privilege’ MORE’s agenda and not her own.
“When I saw statements calling her radical and they were disrespecting her … trying to make her an out of control woman, that was wrong,” Rodgers said.