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US Senate confirms Deb Haaland as first-ever Native American Cabinet Secretary

News Agencies | Updated on: 16 March 2021, 8:37 IST

The US Senate on Monday voted to confirm Deb Haaland as President Joe Biden's Interior Secretary, becoming the first Native American Cabinet secretary.

The vote was confirmed 51 to 40, with most Republicans voting against her after several called her views on public land use and fossil fuels extreme, reported CNN.

In 2018, Haaland was elected as one of the two first female Native Americans in Congress.

Her nomination to lead the Interior Department was a victory for an alliance of progressives and Indigenous leaders who campaigned to elevate one of their own to a powerful federal seat that oversees natural resources, public lands and Indian affairs.

Haaland will be part of Biden's plan to tackle the climate crisis and reduce carbon emissions.

"The historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say, it is not about me. Rather, I hope this nomination would be an inspiration for Americans -- moving forward together as one nation and creating opportunities for all of us," she said during her confirmation hearings.

"It's difficult to not feel obligated to protect this land, and I feel that every Indigenous person in this country understands that...We want to protect this country, and that means protecting it in every single way," she added.

Four Republicans -- Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski -- joined all Democrats in voting for her.

According to CNN, most Republicans highlighted previous comments she's made related to fossil fuels and answers they felt were insufficient at her confirmation hearing.

Pushing back on GOP criticism, Senator Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, said that Haaland's policy views "fall well within the mainstream and fairly represent many of her constituents, I would say the vast majority of her constituents."

The US has had a Native American vice president, Charles Curtis, who served from 1929 to 1933 but has never had an Indigenous Cabinet secretary.


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First published: 16 March 2021, 8:37 IST