One day after warning the president-elect not to take any more Democrats from the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi changed her mind and announced that she supports New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland leaving the House to serve in a cabinet post, if Biden is so inclined.
New Mexicans have given Biden fits over his nomination to lead the sprawling US Department of Interior. Retiring US Senator Tom Udall was seen as an early front-runner until Martin Heinrich, the state’s other US Senator, began to gain support from sportsmen and public lands groups. Progressive groups, already publicly frustrated with what they perceive as insufficient diversity in the president-elect’s inner circle, began pushing Haaland, an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo west of Albuquerque. If selected, Haaland would be the first Native American in history to hold a cabinet post.
To complicate things further, Biden’s team surprised them all by leaking that Biden would offer the post to New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham who had been seeking a cabinet post — just not that one.
Lujan Grisham turned it down but in the time since Biden announced that he would be taking two Democratic congressional members, Representatives Marsha Fudge and Cedric Richmond, for other cabinet posts and leave Pelosi with a razor-thin margin to pass his growing legislative agenda. Haaland’s departure would leave Democrats with a 217-213 margin until those seats are filled by special elections later in 2021.
According to a Tuesday afternoon report from Reuters:
Two of the sources familiar with the proceedings said Biden’s team was close to finalizing the decision on Haaland but weighing concerns about the loss of a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Democrats are hanging on to a slim majority. The third source said the decision was made and that an announcement was imminent.
Moments after Reuters published their report, Bloomberg reported that Biden’s imminent pick of Haaland was drawing pushback from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats in Congress.
Madam Speaker changes her mind.
By Wednesday evening, Pelosi had heard enough from progressive organizations and members who support giving Haaland the opportunity to serve with Biden. On Wednesday afternoon, Christine Pelosi, daughter of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, shared a statement from the speaker calling Haaland an “excellent choice” for interior. She added the #Debforinterior hashtag.
Now it’s up to the president-elect to make his pick.
If Haaland were to leave her Congressional seat it would trigger a special election within 90 days to fill her seat.
Read more from The Paper. about Deb Haaland: