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WASHINGTON — The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled Rep. Deb Haaland’s hearing for her nomination as Interior Secretary for Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 9:30 a.m ET. The hearing will take place in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in the Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, and will be webcast live on the committee’s website.

As of Feb. 17, seven of Biden’s 23 Cabinet nominated positions requiring Senate approval have been confirmed. Also scheduled for next Tuesday is the hearing for Xavier Becerra, President Joe Biden's pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Bacerra will testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Perhaps the most contentious nomination is Rep. Haaland’s, a Democratic second-term representative from the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, who if confirmed by the Senate will be the first Native American to serve in a Cabinet position in the history of the United States.  

Fifteen Republican House members, who do not vote to confirm this position, oppose Haaland’s nomination because of her stance on environmental policies they say will hinder economic development in their regions. Haaland has publicly opposed drilling and fracking on public lands.

In a letter penned by Minnesota Rep. Pete Stauber urging President Biden to withdraw Haaland’s nomination, authors wrote:

“The nomination of Representative Haaland as Interior Secretary embodies clear support for the Green New Deal and a rejection of even the potential of high-wage jobs,” the Republicans’ letter states. “We implore in the strongest terms to withdraw the nomination of Representative Haaland and instead nominate a consensus-driven individual who will not implement policies that will kill jobs and increase the country’s reliance on foreign adversaries."

The letter’s authors received campaign money from the oil and gas industry from 2019 to 2020. Rep. Stauber, who took the lead in writing the letter, received $73,461 from the oil and gas industry. Rep. August Pfluger, of Texas's 11th congressional district, received $440,108.

But Native groups, in addition to Democratic lawmakers, stand behind Haaland’s nomination. Last week, the National Congress of American Indians convened an emergency meeting resulting in its public urging for the immediate confirmation of Haaland.

Witness testimony will be available on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s website at the start of the hearing.

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Jenna Kunze
Author: Jenna KunzeEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Senior Reporter
Jenna Kunze is a staff reporter covering Indian health, the environment and breaking news for Native News Online. She is also the lead reporter on stories related to Indian boarding schools and repatriation. Her bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Tribal Business News, Smithsonian Magazine, Elle and Anchorage Daily News. Kunze is based in New York.