Dozens Of Lawmakers Urge Biden To Pick Deb Haaland For Interior Secretary
Dozens of Congressmen, including some Republicans, are calling on President-elect Joe Biden to elect Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) As his Home Secretary - and make history in the process.
Haaland, chairman of the House's subcommittee on natural resources with oversight of the Home Office, made history in 2018 as one of only two Native American women ever elected to Congress. If Biden were to win her to the post of Home Secretary, it would be the first time the country had a Native American in a cabinet position.
“We appreciate your commitment to building a cabinet that reflects the diversity of America, and we strongly encourage you to nominate our colleague Deb Haaland, a New Mexico congressman and enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, as your cabinet Minister of the Interior, ”read a letter to Biden sent on Monday and signed by more than 50 House Democrats.
"She has been an advocate of our environment and our public lands, and has worked tirelessly to improve nation-to-nation relations between the United States and Indian tribes," continues the letter, delivered by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva (D- Ariz.). "By choosing her as your Home Secretary, you can make history by giving Native Americans a seat at the cabinet table for the first time."
Here is a copy of her letter:
On Friday, Democratic MPs Gerry Connolly (Va.) And Paul Tonko (N.Y.), co-chair of the House's Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, wrote similarly to Biden, who is gathering behind Haaland for the job.
"Since joining Congress and our coalition, Congresswoman Haaland has shown a relentless commitment to protecting public land, tackling the climate crisis and meeting the needs of indigenous communities across the country," they wrote. "As an indigenous woman, her nomination would be historically important, and she would bring perspective and direct experience to the work of serving tribal communities in ways that no public official is facing."
Even some Republicans speak out in favor of it. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Who co-chairs the Native American Caucus in Congress with Haaland, raved about his bipartisan work with her.
"While we belong to different parties, I think Congresswoman Deb Haaland is a valued colleague and friend," Cole told HuffPost in a statement Friday. "Not only do Congressman Haaland and I share a special bond through our tribal heritage and extensive knowledge of tribal history in the United States, but we also share a common understanding when it comes to advancing politics for the good of India."
“Because we understand that Native American problems are not conservative or liberal, we have achieved a lot together, including securing significant federal funding to assist tribal governments in their response to the coronavirus crisis and uncovering the heartbreaking epidemic of the murdered and the missing indigenous women, ”he added.
Because we understand that Native American issues are not conservative or liberal, together we have achieved a lot.
Republican MP Tom Cole
Representative Don Young (R-Alaska), the senior member of the House's Natural Resources Subcommittee for National Parks, Forests and Public Areas, chaired by Haaland, specifically endorsed Haaland as Secretary of the Interior.
As Minister of the Interior [Rep. Haaland] would not only make history as the first Native American woman in this role, but would also pour her passion into the job every day, ”Young told reporter Julian Brave NoiseCat on Wednesday.
A young spokesperson did not respond to HuffPost's request for comment.
The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for the management of the country's natural resources and compliance with the federal government's obligations to Indian tribes, which it has repeatedly failed to do. It also oversees the Bureau of Indian Education and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the latter of which manages more than 55 million acres of land held by the government in the trust of Native Americans. Both agencies are notoriously underfunded and have failed to adequately serve the indigenous communities.
The seismic shift of hiring a Native American woman to oversee public land from which the indigenous peoples were forcibly removed by the US government is not lost on Haaland.
"The symbolism alone is profound," she told HuffPost last week.
Haaland said "of course" that she would be interested in the position that was offered to her. She stressed that people are working to make sure she gets it, but that she doesn't know what is going on with the appointment process.
Biden was the mother of whoever he wants to appoint. Haaland's name is announced along with Democratic Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich from New Mexico.
Officials on the Biden transition team said Thursday that the president-elect plans to announce some cabinet positions before Thanksgiving.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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