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Deb Haaland makes history as 1st Native American interior secretary

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) was confirmed as interior secretary on Monday, becoming the first Native American to lead the agency and the first to hold a Cabinet-level position.

She is a member of the Laguna Pueblo, and in 2018, Haaland and Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) became the first Native American women elected to Congress.

The Senate confirmation vote was 51-40. While four Republicans joined all Democrats to vote for Haaland, several members of the GOP were vocal in their objection to her, claiming she is “extreme” in her opposition to fracking and drilling on public lands. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) disagreed, saying Haaland’s views “fall well within the mainstream and fairly represent many of her constituents, I would say the vast majority of her constituents.”

During her confirmation hearing, Haaland said while there is “no question that fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come,” climate change “must be addressed” and the Department of the Interior “has a role in harnessing the clean energy potential of our public lands to create jobs and new economic opportunities.”

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