Rep. Haaland makes history as first Native American to serve in presidential Cabinet after Senate confirmation


New Mexico Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland, whose environmental goals were considered too extremist by some Republicans in the Senate won confirmation Monday evening to be Interior Secretary and the first Native American to be a member of a presidential cabinet.

But her confirmation came without the support of Oklahoma’s Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford as the Senate voted 51-40 with nine members not voting.

Sen. Lankford opposed Rep. Haaland’s nomination during her Senate confirmation hearings, saying Oklahomans need an Interior Secretary who will support an all-of-the-above energy strategy to ensure they have reliable base power on the coldest and hottest days.

“During a two-part hearing, I asked Representative Haaland multiple questions relating to oil and gas leasing and permitting issues on federal lands, challenges with Oklahoma’s energy during extreme weather last month, and following the science to declassify the American Burying Beetle as an endangered species. Her non-committal answers and record do not show a commitment to ensuring we have the power we need to fuel our homes and clean air, water, and land,” said the Senator in a statement.

Sen. Inhofe also voted against her confirmation but to date, has yet to state publicly why he opposed Haaland’s nomination.

Other Republican Senators remain unhappy over Haaland’s previous statements calling for an end to natural gas fracking and pipeline development. Some point to an October tweet in which the citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna Native American tribe stated, “Republicans don’t believe in science.”

The American Petroleum Institute, apparent realizing Biden’s environmental policies and practices are now at the forefront came out with a congratulatory statement following Haaland’s confirmation.

“API congratulates Secretary Haaland on her historic confirmation and looks forward to working with the Department of Interior to shape the policies that will determine America’s energy future,” said President and CEO Mike Sommers.

He said Haaland now has some clear choices to make as Interior Secretary.

“We can build on the significant environmental progress the nation has made while simultaneously leading the world in energy production, or we can return to the days of relying on energy from foreign nations with lower environmental standards.”

Sommers continued that Haaland’s first priority should be to lift the federal leasing pause.