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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.

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.

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.




People are growing frustrated with Manchin's moderation at a time when Democrats' majority is as narrow as possible.



Meanwhile, Americans across the country are championing Haaland's nomination.



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.