The Senate voted Thursday to move forward with confirming Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) to lead the Interior Department, bringing President Joe Biden’s historic nominee one step closer to becoming the nation’s first Native American cabinet secretary in U.S. history.
Thursday’s action, called a cloture vote, was only a procedural step. But it accomplished two things: It teed up Haaland’s nomination for a final confirmation vote on Monday, and it put Republican senators on record for the first time as to how they’ll likely vote in the end. The way senators vote on cloture almost always mirrors their final votes on a nominee.
The vote on cloture was 54 to 42. Every Democrat voted to advance Haaland’s nomination. Four Republicans voted with them: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Dan Sullivan (Alaska). Four senators didn’t vote at all. They were Republican Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.), Bill Cassidy (La.), John Kennedy (La.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.).
Collins and Murkowski had already indicated that they planned to vote to confirm Haaland. But Graham and Sullivan emerged as new votes of support, at least on cloture.
HuffPost reached out to Graham’s and Sullivan’s offices about whether those senators would similarly vote to confirm Biden’s nominee on Monday. A Graham spokesperson did not respond to the request for comment. Nate Adams, a Sullivan spokesperson, left the question open.
“Senator Sullivan had another hour-long meeting with Congresswoman Haaland yesterday and is following up on numerous commitments Haaland has made to him and continuing to evaluate her responses to questions he has raised,” Adams wrote in an email to HuffPost.
Haaland, who previously chaired the House Natural Resources subcommittee with oversight authority for the Interior Department, already has the votes to be confirmed. After Monday’s vote, she will be in charge of the massive federal agency overseeing public lands and tribal obligations.
“Under President Trump, the Department of Interior became one of the most scandal-ridden agencies in the federal government,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor. “It gave oil and mining companies carte blanche to drill in wildlife reserves, rolled back environmental protections, and greatly undermined trust in the federal government in tribal lands.”
“Rep. Haaland will move the department in a dramatically different direction,” he continued. “One of her most important responsibilities will be to restore and uphold the federal government’s obligations to sovereign tribal nations. I cannot think of a better candidate to take on this job than Rep. Haaland, and I greatly look forward to confirming her.”
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