Saturday, September 30, 2023

Senate Sets Haaland Hearing Date As Oil Country Republicans Prep Attacks

Haaland's confirmation could be Biden's toughest fight yet


The confirmation hearing for New Mexico Congresswoman and Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland now has a date and Republicans are already rolling out the attacks to try to stop her.

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources announced yesterday that it will hold Haaland's confirmation hearing next Tuesday at 9:30 am in Washington (7:30 am local time in New Mexico). Many had speculated that a date was imminent when conservative news outlets and Republican senators began ramping up opposition to Haaland over the past week.

Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, tweeted a story from the Wall Street Journal that Haaland "has joined pipeline protests and opposed fracking." That drew immediate pushback from progressives, including Congressman Mondaire Jones (D-NY) who replied to Cornyn, "Thank God. Confirm her immediately."

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders jumped in as well, though no one expects his support to sway Republican opposition. "We need an Interior Secretary who has the guts to take on fossil fuel CEOs whose greed is destroying the planet," he said., a non-profit watchdog covering money in politics, reports that Cornyn is the Senate's top recipient of oil and gas donations for his campaigns, taking in more than $1,000,000 in 2020 alone.

As Interior Secretary, Deb Haaland will be charged with implementing President Biden's newly announced moratorium on federal oil and gas leases, an issue incredibly important to both the industry and her home state of New Mexico.

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The top Republican on the committee hearing Haaland's confirmation next week has already said he will oppose her, though his announcement came as little surprise.

Senator Daines' opposition to Haaland's support of "radical issues" hints at the language and strategy Republicans are amplifying in the lead-up to the hearing. More radical, say her supporters, would be her confirmation as the first Native American to lead the federal department responsible for caring for public lands and honoring treaty obligations to Native people.

Haaland will also face some friendly faces in committee. New Mexico's senior US Senator, Martin Heinrich, is a member and he has applauded her selection since it was first announced in December.

Like Biden's other nominees whose new jobs include environmental issues, Haaland's committee hearing will likely end in a partisan vote to send her to the full floor for the final Senate vote. On the floor, Democrats have a narrow one-vote margin in Vice President Harris who would cast a tie-breaking vote for Haaland, if needed. But, that doesn't mean Republicans won't try to use every tool available to stop her.


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