Senate votes to confirm Deb Haaland as first Native American Interior secretary

Deb Haaland/Twitter

By Debra Utacia Krol | Arizona Republic

New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo, was confirmed by the Senate as Interior secretary on Monday, the first time a Native American has held a cabinet-level position.

The 51-40 vote was mostly along party lines, though South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham joined three other Republican senators in voting to confirm Haaland. Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine also voted to approve the nomination.

Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly both voted to confirm Haaland, who will resign her congressional seat in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District on Tuesday and could be sworn in as early as Wednesday. 

Haaland tweeted out a brief statement after the vote: “Thank you to the U.S. Senate for your confirmation vote today. As Secretary of Interior, I look forward to collaborating with all of you. I am ready to serve. #BeFierce”

Haaland, 60, takes charge of one of the U.S. government’s largest agencies, with 70,000 employees and the mandate to manage some 20% of the nation’s land base. That includes more than 28-million acres in Arizona. 

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