Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding moving forward with confirming Deb Haaland as President Biden’s Secretary of the Interior and continuing to confirm President Biden’s team. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
The past few weeks in the Senate have been extremely productive. Senate Democrats delivered on our promise to pass bold Covid-relief legislation and we have now confirmed 16 cabinet-level officials. Today, we will continue moving the ball forward on the president’s nominees by confirming Rep. Deb Haaland to serve as President Biden’s Secretary of the Interior.
Rep. Haaland has already made history as one of two members who became the first Native American women to serve in the House of Representatives. She is a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo nation and her family’s roots in New Mexico can be traced back 35 generations. By her own account, she grew up poor, moving frequently. Her mother served in the Navy and her father spent a 30-year career in the Marines. While the federal government has often mistreated and neglected Indigenous Americans, the Haaland family has proudly and bravely served this country.
Now, Rep. Haaland is making history twice over as the first Native American Secretary of the Interior, and the first Native American cabinet official in American history. Rep. Haaland’s confirmation represents a gigantic step forward in creating a government that represents the full richness and diversity of this country—because Native Americans were, for far too long, neglected at the Cabinet level and in so many other places.
Rep. Haaland will have an important task ahead of her. She must refocus the Interior Department on preserving and protecting almost 500 million acres of public lands, combating climate change and environmental degradation, and upholding the federal government’s obligation to tribal nations. The Trump administration did more to undermine the relationship between the federal government and the sovereign tribes than many have in decades: from desecrating sacred burial sites in order to build a border wall, to neglecting the desperate situation of Native Tribes during the pandemic. Shame on them.
In elevating Rep. Haaland to lead the Department of Interior, we reset the relationship between the federal government and tribal nations to one of cooperation, mutual respect, and trust—so different than the last administration’s attitude.
I greatly look forward to voting in favor of Rep. Haaland’s nomination in a few short hours.
Now, throughout the week, the Senate will process even more of President Biden’s highly qualified cabinet nominees, including Xavier Becerra to serve as the next Secretary of Health and Human Services, Isabel Guzman to serve as SBA Administrator, and Katherine Tai to serve as U.S. Trade Representative.
As President Biden continues to fight the COVID pandemic and begins implementing the American Rescue Plan, he deserves to have his team in place ASAP, as soon as possible.