Haaland nomination to head Interior heads to full Senate

The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to advance U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland’s nomination to lead the Interior Department. The committee voted 11-9, with Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voting along with Democrats, to send the nomination to the full Senate. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico was among the Democrats who voted to advance Haaland’s nomination. “I am pleased that Congresswoman Haaland’s confirmation is advancing, and I am eager for the full Senate to take up her nomination so she can get to work protecting our natural heritage for future generations,” Heinrich said. Heinrich, a second-term Senator, has been a key voice supporting Haaland’s nomination.

Haaland questioned by Senate committee in confirmation hearing

In U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland’s opening remarks during her confirmation hearing for Secretary of the Interior, she noted that she has a “unique” story. “Although today I serve as a member of Congress and was the vice chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, if confirmed, I would be the first Native American to serve as cabinet secretary,” she said in her opening remarks. “This historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say it’s not about me.”

Haaland is an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo and when first elected in 2018, became one of the first two Native American women in the U.S. House of Representatives, along with Sharice Davids, a Democrat from Kansas, who was elected in the same year. Haaland is a staunch progressive and has advocated for stronger environmental protections, including on public lands and related to oil and gas exploration. She also vowed to “listen and work with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle” if confirmed. 

Included in this was an introduction from Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska, who referred to Haaland as his friend and said that if confirmed, she would be a voice in the cabinet that would listen to all perspectives.

Udall leads Senate effort to reverse Trump’s emergency declaration

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall is leading the bipartisan effort to overturn President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration. The New Mexico senator says the president overstepped his constitutional powers. Udall and Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins announced the legislation to block Trump’s national emergency declaration. In early February, Trump declared a national emergency to divert billions of dollars from the U.S. Department of Defense to construct a border wall. In a floor speech Thursday, Udall positioned the bill as not about the border wall, but about the powers that Congress holds over the disbursement of money.

Scandals pile up for Interior secretary

In recent weeks, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has taken a lot of heat for his decisions. Conservation groups have lambasted him over the secretiveness of his department’s monuments review. The final review has yet to be made public, though a draft of the report leaked to the press in September. Conservationists have also critiqued his moves to undo years of collaborative planning for sage grouse protection. This story originally appeared at High Country News and is reprinted with permission.

Last-ditch effort by Republicans to replace ACA: 5 things you need to know

Republican efforts in Congress to “repeal and replace” the federal Affordable Care Act are back from the dead. Again. While the chances for this last-ditch measure appear iffy, many GOP senators are rallying around a proposal by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), along with Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)

They are racing the clock to round up the needed 50 votes — and there are 52 Senate Republicans.