The Senate voted Monday to confirm Rep. Deb Haaland as the Biden administration’s secretary of the interior by a margin of 51-40, The Hill reported.
While the votes to confirm Haaland were overwhelmingly from Democrats, Republican Sens. Lindsay Graham (SC), Susan Collins (ME), Dan Sullivan (AK), and Lisa Murkowski (AK) voted to confirm her as well.
“War on energy”
Confirmation votes from Alaska Sens. Sullivan and Murkowski are particularly surprising given the fact that Haaland has shown hostility to the fossil fuel industry, a key part of their state’s economy.
Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso blasted Haaland for her alignment with President Joe Biden’s “war on energy.”
“Representative Haaland’s extreme policy views, lack of substantive answers during the confirmation process, and full support for President Biden’s war on American energy disqualify her for the job of Interior Secretary,” he said in a statement released on Monday, The Hill reported.
Haaland’s “views on American energy fly in the face of the mission of the Department of the Interior,” the lawmaker added.
While Murkowski acknowledged her suspicions that Haaland may not be the best person for the job, she indicated that her race — Haaland is Native American — should be a factor.
Murkowski cites Haaland’s race
Murkowski told reporters Monday, “I wish that I could say, ‘yes, I’ve got every degree of confidence.’ I don’t so my obligation is to make sure I am on top of this all the time.”
“It was significant that you have a Native American woman who will be in a position really oversee, if you will, those lands that are part of their homeland,” she continued, according to The Hill.
She added, “There is clearly that sense of pride, but as important as that is, it is more important that a woman who has achieved this historic position then lives up to it.”
For his part, Sullivan said that although it was a difficult decision, he believes helping to confirm Haaland might provide him with the opportunity to influence her decision making.
“I believe that my vote to confirm Congresswoman Haaland as Secretary of the Interior may enhance my ability to successfully advocate for a ceasefire in the Biden administration’s war on the Alaska economy and working families,” Sullivan said in a statement Monday.