President Joe Biden nominated Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM) to head the U.S. Department of Interior. If confirmed, Haaland—a Laguna Pueblo—would be the first Indigenous American presidential cabinet secretary.
What's more, the importance of an Indigenous person heading the Department of Interior can't be overstated. The Department oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs along with the policies affecting the nearly 600 federally recognized Indigenous nations in the United States.
As Dr. Traci Morris, Executive Director of the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University writes:
"To Indian Country, Haaland is viewed as everybody's 'auntie.' Having her in leadership gives Native America a seat at the policymaking table. For New Mexico she has been a productive member of Congress, reelected in 2020 with over 58% of the vote. And while a few Western senators have called her views 'radical,' I believe that Native issues are American issues."
One of those Senators that fits Morris' description is Joe Manchin (D-WV), the most conservative Democrat in the chamber, who reportedly remains "undecided" regarding his vote on Haaland's confirmation.
Sen. Joe Manchin is undecided on Deb Haaland's nomination for Interior Secretary, his spokeswoman Sam Runyon tells… https://t.co/3mRXMR8su4— Geoff Bennett (@Geoff Bennett)1614023271.0
Manchin's vote is vital to Haaland's confirmation in the evenly divided Senate. Absent Republican defects on the vote, Democrats need all 50 of their Senators and a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris to confirm Haaland to the position.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) rebuked Manchin's uncertainty, citing his vote to confirm then-Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to serve as former President Donald Trump's Attorney General in 2017.
Ocasio-Cortez—known colloquially as AOC—didn't hold back.
Jeff Sessions was so openly racist that even Reagan couldn’t appoint him. Manchin voted to confirm him. Sessions t… https://t.co/MAsgUeTCPL— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1614030518.0
Former President Ronald Reagan attempted to appoint Sessions as a U.S. Court judge in Alabama in 1986, but the nomination failed after multiple colleagues came forward, testifying that Sessions had made multiple racist statements and decried civil rights groups like the NAACP as "un-American."
Nevertheless, Manchin voted to confirm Sessions to head the Justice Department 30 years later.
People joined AOC in calling out Manchin's uneven standards.
Thank you @AOC for standing up and speaking out! https://t.co/r1caCbrctw— Andrew (@Andrew)1614090025.0
This is infuriating. https://t.co/ZZQUoKg9ut— Debra K Creates 🌈🌎💙 (@Debra K Creates 🌈🌎💙)1614034115.0
Exactly 🙌🏽💅🏽 https://t.co/zcQvJ8bqHC— Monteena Jones (@Monteena Jones)1614045166.0
Facts! https://t.co/KCuBIsBP2G— Sharonica Smith (@Sharonica Smith)1614049753.0
People are growing frustrated with Manchin's moderation at a time when Democrats' majority is as narrow as possible.
Wouldn't it be nice if Manchin was a actual democrat? https://t.co/b2gKHV6Ufh— SnarkyLiberal (@SnarkyLiberal)1614048521.0
I think we had enough of Manchin; he’s either with progress or against it, can’t have it both ways; and don’t start… https://t.co/8WQI3f1TUp— Enrique Javier (@Enrique Javier)1614066778.0
What is wrong with #JoeManchin ? https://t.co/XKzrbGIkS2— BrooklynMarylee (@BrooklynMarylee)1614044945.0
Meanwhile, Americans across the country are championing Haaland's nomination.
Dope. Deb Haaland is qualified as it gets to become Secretary of Interior. Those of us who’s lives, lands and livel… https://t.co/69T6ei7Fpk— Nick Tilsen (@Nick Tilsen)1614041633.0
Deb Haaland is an amazing, qualified leader who deserves a speedy confirmation. It's hard not to see a pattern when… https://t.co/ko8XINErdi— Ilyse Hogue (@Ilyse Hogue)1614033904.0
Good morning. Today is Rep. Deb Haaland’s confirmation hearing to be Interior Secretary. She is a historic nominee… https://t.co/VUQYdzHl98— Ike Irby, PhD (@Ike Irby, PhD)1614084519.0
Congresswoman Haaland appeared before the Senate Energy Committee on Tuesday and is expected to face them again before her nomination goes to a floor vote.