Interior Secretary nominee Rep. Deb Haaland moved one step closer to confirmation on Thursday, after a Senate committee voted to advance her nomination to the full chamber.
One Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), joined Democrats in voting to move forward with Haaland’s nomination.
Haaland, a Native American congresswoman who represents a New Mexico district, now awaits her final confirmation vote, which should happen in the coming weeks. If confirmed, Haaland will make history as the nation’s first-ever Indigenous cabinet secretary at any agency.
Murkowski said that while she has some concerns about Haaland’s opposition to expanding oil and gas drilling on public lands (a stance that reflects President Joe Biden’s agenda), she could not overlook the significance of installing a Native American leader at the Interior Department. She said tribes in her state strongly support Haaland, and having Haaland lead the federal agency that oversees public lands and tribal obligations will elevate Alaska Native issues to one of the highest levels of government.
“I am going to place my trust in Rep. Haaland … despite some very real misgivings,” Murkowski said ahead of the committee vote. “If you’re listening, know that I intend to work with you because I want you to be successful. And quite honestly, we need you to be successful.”
Murkowski is now the second GOP senator to pledge to support Haaland. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced her support on Wednesday.
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