Republicans Failed to Sink Deb Haaland's Nomination-and Looked Like Fools in the Process
Biden’s nominee for Interior responded to GOP bluster with grace and is headed for confirmation.
March 1, 2021
Deb Haaland, a Laguna Pueblo tribal citizen and President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Interior Department, is on the brink of history. If confirmed by the Senate, she would be the first Native American cabinet secretary. Interior manages one-fifth of the nation’s land and vast supplies of natural resources, all taken from Native people, as well as the lion’s share of federal Indian policy. This makes Haaland’s appointment even more significant—not just symbolic, but a true restoration of power to a people who nearly lost everything.
Yet, despite this remarkable moment, the public is still largely unfamiliar with the woman representing New Mexico’s First Congressional District. A poll of over 1,100 likely voters fielded in late January by Data for Progress, the think tank where I work, found that about 50 percent of respondents had not heard of her. That meant many Americans would get to know Haaland through this week’s confirmation hearing. And Republicans wanted to make that introduction as painful as possible for her, Biden, and the Democratic Party. In an attempt to block Haaland’s nomination, conservatives on the Senate Committee on Energy threw a barrage of criticism and questions at her, trying to provoke the sort of charged exchange that Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity can turn into incendiary diatribes on Fox News.