The Senate confirmed Rep. Deb Haaland in a historic vote on Monday, paving the way for a new generation of Indigenous leaders. Haaland was confirmed in her new role with a 51-40 vote, with four Republicans voting in support.
Her nomination and confirmation process were watched closely by Indigenous peoples throughout the U.S. Supporters took to social media to share their excitement, even attending watch parties hosted by Indigenous organizations like Illuminative and NDN Collective.
Some supporters made frybread in celebration, honoring traditional Native foods.
Haaland’s supporters rallied around her as naysayers voiced their opposition. Republican Sen. John Barrasso said that in addition to the prospect of the state losing billions of dollars in extraction revenues he was also concerned that Haaland would be too extreme on environmental issues. Sen. Martin Heinrich, New Mexico’s senior U.S. Senator, said he was disappointed at the rhetoric used by Barrasso and other Republicans. Heinrich, who lives in Haaland’s district, said she “always has an open door and an open mind” to a range of views.
Ben Ray Lujan, New Mexico’s newest senator, was proud to make Haaland’s confirmation one of his first in the Senate.
Minnesota’s Democratic Senator Tina Smith had harsh words for Haaland’s critics. “Our country is better with Deb Haaland confirmed to serve as Secretary of the Interior,” she said.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren vocalized her enthusiastic support for Madam Secretary.
Haaland expressed her gratitude for the support and with her now-infamous motto #BeFierce
Haaland will resign her congressional seat in New Mexico on Tuesday and could be sworn in as early as Wednesday.