Sens. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming) and Steve Daines (R-Montana) on Tuesday announced that they will be putting a “hold” on President Joe Biden’s nomination of Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico) to serve as U.S. Secretary of the Interior, a technicality intended to delay the nomination by forcing debate.
The hold gives Senators a chance to debate Rep. Haaland’s nomination on the floor of the Senate, according to a March 9 press release from Sen. Lummis’s office, delaying Haaland’s confirmation to lead the Interior Department.
The stalling tactic won’t have much of an impact on who ultimately heads the Interior, however, as Haaland will likely be confirmed by securing a simple majority vote. Still, the move draws attention to the Biden administration’s energy policies, including the president’s January decision to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline project, which are largely opposed by western Republicans.
“According to a University of Wyoming analysis, the Biden ban could cost my state nearly $13 billion in tax revenue, which would devastate Wyoming’s investments in education, healthcare and infrastructure,” Lummis said in the release. “Congresswoman Deb Haaland will be a champion of this and even more radical policies, and I am committed to doing anything I can to fight the Biden and Haaland job-killing agenda.”
Lummis went on to say that she was putting the hold on the nomination “for Wyoming’s energy workers and producers who will bear the loss of jobs, and for our medical professionals and children who will bear the loss of revenue.”
A statement from Daines’s office echoed a similar sentiment. The senator thinks it’s important to have a floor debate on Haaland’s record, per the statement.
“I will be forcing debate on Rep. Haaland’s nomination to Interior,” Daines said. “Her record is clear: she opposes pipelines and fossil fuels, ignores science when it comes to wildlife management and wants to ban trapping on public lands. Her views will hurt the Montana way of life and kill Montana jobs. We must consider the impact she will have on the West.”
During her Senate confirmation hearing in February, Haaland stressed multiple times that she would be implementing Biden’s agenda, not her own.
When I accepted the nomination to be Secretary of Interior, I did so on the shoulders of my ancestors & all who have come before me in this fight. I stand ready to serve & address the issues facing our country, public lands, & tribal nations. I look forward to the work ahead. pic.twitter.com/LVCWA0NWsX
— Deb Haaland (@DebHaalandNM) January 10, 2021
If confirmed, Haaland will be the first Native American to serve as Cabinet secretary, and would oversee the Department of Interior, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Office of Natural Resource Revenue (ONRR), National Park Service (NPS), Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), and more.
Wyoming’s overwhelming amount of federal public lands and minerals makes the decisions and actions of Interior have an outsized issue on the state.
Spokespeople for Haaland and the Interior Department did not immediately respond to inquiries for comment on the holds.