Confirmation hearings for President Biden's nominee for Interior Secretary, New Mexico Representative Deb Haaland, began this morning.
Haaland: "I carry my life experiences with me everywhere I go. It’s those experiences that give me hope for the fut… https://t.co/UeK4YYpwOI— Indian Country Today (@Indian Country Today)1614092530.0
GOP lawmakers wasted no time, and are already trying to paint Haaland as "radical" for believing in science and wanting to alleviate climate change.
Haaland, an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna who also has Jemez Pueblo heritage, was serving in the House as the Representative for New Mexico's 1st district since 2019. In that time, she has never tried to hide her opposition to environmentally damaging institutions like fracking or the Keystone XL pipeline.
Among those attempting to discredit Haaland is Montana Representative Steve Daines.
Watching @DebHaalandNM confirmation hearing: Republicans have said "Science" so many times - I'm like... https://t.co/krQruyeSh7— Dallas Goldtooth (@Dallas Goldtooth)1614097288.0
Daines even went so far as to claim he will "block her confirmation" over her "radical views" on climate change and the fossil fuel industry.
"I'm not convinced the Congresswoman can divorce her radical views and represent what's best for Montana and all stakeholders in the West. Unless my concerns are addressed, I will block her confirmation."
The Interior Department's duties include managing federal lands including national parks, forests, refuges and monuments—more than 600 million acres worth.
Haaland is known for opposing fossil fuel extraction on those federally owned lands, a position that may earn her some disapproval from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers whose states' economies rely heavily on revenue from oil and gas drilling.
Twitter users were unsurprised by GOP lawmakers' attempts to paint Haaland as too radical for the position of Secretary of the Interior.
Barraso leads off by calling Rep Deb Haaland 'radical'. not a surprise.— Wrangler:⚖️ pace yourselves, it's a long ride 💛💙 (@Wrangler:⚖️ pace yourselves, it's a long ride 💛💙)1614105515.0
At least Deb Haaland has brought into focus what Manchin & Republicans mean by "too radical" to be Interior Secreta… https://t.co/cCvcvtViwe— Social Distancing Since 1971 (@Social Distancing Since 1971)1614102571.0
Sen. Daines is up. He's come out the strongest against Deb Haaland, vowing to *block* Haaland's nomination because… https://t.co/DtT2lJp9X2— Jennifer Bendery (@Jennifer Bendery)1614094766.0
Watching the confirmation hearings of Representative Deb Haaland for Secretary of Interior. I support her 100% sup… https://t.co/6UoDkel3W9— TerryTempestWilliams (@TerryTempestWilliams)1614091349.0
Republican lawmakers are also concerned enough about her appointment to start questioning Haaland on her past criticism of Republicans.
GOP Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming brought up a tweet from last October in which Haaland said that "Republicans don't believe in science," in reference to comments made during the Vice Presidential debate.
Republicans 👏🏼 don't 👏🏼 believe 👏🏼 in 👏🏼 science 👏🏼 #VPDebate— Deb Haaland (@Deb Haaland)1602121658.0
Barrasso said he was concerned because some Republican lawmakers are medical doctors.
"Do you think that as medical doctors we don't believe in science? How do you stand by this statement?"
Haaland replied logically and simply:
"Senator, yes, if you're a doctor, I would assume that you believe in science."
While Republicans may be trying to paint Haaland as an unfit radical, many Americans think she is the perfect pick for the job.
The first minute of @DebHaalandNM’s opening statement is one for the history books: https://t.co/qtaIm6PnuN— DJ Koessler (@DJ Koessler)1614097599.0
Among those supporting Haaland are the tribal leaders of many Indigenous communities. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is also part of the Department of the Interior.
The connection has been used to seize and exploit treaty backed tribally owned lands—something Republicans hope to continue to do.
Republican lawmakers petitioned President Biden last month to withdraw his historic nomination of Haaland for Interior Secretary. In that letter, they first began to paint Haaland as too 'radical' to serve in the position—partially because of her support for the Green New Deal.