Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is taking steps for the full Senate to take action on the confirmation of several high profile Biden cabinet nominees in the coming days, including Merrick Garland for Attorney General, Congresswoman Marsha Fudge to head the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and Congresswoman Deb Haaland to head the US Department of Interior.
If confirmed, Haaland would be the first Native American cabinet secretary in American history. But her confirmation was not always certain and an quick and easy vote before the US Senate is not guaranteed, though two Republican women have voiced support for her ensuring that she will have enough votes once the final vote count is called.
After two days of hearings before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, announced that she would vote to confirm Haaland, despite “misgivings.” Alaska, like New Mexico, includes a sizeable Native American population and Native communities have strongly lobbied for Haaland’s confirmation.
Senate Committee Votes To Confirm Haaland. Here’s Who Voted For and Against Her and What Happens Next.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine, also a Republican, also says she will vote for Haaland. That gives her two Republican votes, just enough to squeak by in the evenly divided 50-50 US Senate.
So when will they vote?
Now that the Senate committee has voted favorably on the nominee, the nomination moves to the full Senate where the majority leader, in this case Chuck Schumer, schedules it for a vote. But before any vote can occur, Senate rules require a series of notices, waiting periods and procedural votes.
Several sources now report that Schumer is expected to file a motion for cloture, a motion to end debate on the nominee, today. Cloture is a Senate rule to essentially take a test vote on a question. If it passes, it prevents any member from filibustering the final vote (but nothing prevents a Senator from filibustering the cloture motion). Nonetheless, cloture is important because, according to the US Senate history books, of the 59 times in Senate history when cloture was agreed to, 100 percent of nominees were confirmed.
That is followed by one full day where no action is taken, then members of the Senate will vote on the cloture motion, essentially a vote agreeing to move forward to the real vote on the nomination. By Senate rules, that should happen on Thursday and all eyes will be on Republicans to see if they attempt to force a fight on this procedural motion that requires a 2/3 majority to move forward.
Once cloture is agreed to, the Senate has up to 30 hours to debate the nominee before a final vote. That puts the final floor vote on track for Monday, March 15th. Sources close to Haaland tell The Paper. that they have been told to be prepared for final action that day.
After debate, the Senate votes. If all Democrats and two Republicans remain solid in their support, Haaland will be confirmed as the 54th secretary of the department.
Next Haaland would formally resign her seat in Congress and be sworn into her new role where we’ll all have to get used to calling her “Madam Secretary.”