The vote was 51 to 40, with most Republicans voting against it after many described her views on public land use and fossil fuels.
Discussing her motivations for taking the job, she said, “It is difficult not to feel an obligation to protect this land, and I feel that every indigenous person in this country understands that,” adding, “We want to protect this country, and that means protecting it in every way.”
Four Republicans – Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, and Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska – joined all of the Democrats in the vote for her.
Republicans who opposed Haaland’s nomination highlighted previous comments she made regarding fossil fuels and answers that they felt were insufficient at her affirmation session. Senator John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming and a senior Republican member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, spoke in opposition to the nomination in a speech on Thursday.
During the stabilization hearings, Haaland tried to strike a delicate balance on energy and environmental policy, saying, “There is no doubt that fossil energy is playing and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come.” But she added, “The climate challenge that we face must be addressed,” and stressed that “the ministry has a role in harnessing the potential of clean energy in our public lands to create new jobs and economic opportunities.”
On several occasions, Haaland has refused to express her personal views in the face of questions from Republican senators, indicating instead that she will act in Biden’s service to carry out his administration’s agenda.
Montana Republican Senator Steve Dines asked Haaland at one point, “Are you in favor of a ban on fracking and no new pipelines?” She replied, “President Biden is not in favor of banning hydraulic fracturing as far as I understand.” Dines pressed once again on the question, and Haaland said: “If I am believed as a secretary, I will work to please the president and his agenda will be the one that I will move forward.”
Despite Republican opposition, Haaland was hailed and praised by Democrats as qualified for the job.
Senator Martin Heinrich, a Democrat from New Mexico, spoke in support of her candidacy in a speech to the Senate, saying, “I am confident that she is the leader we need in the interior to take on the important work of restoring our landscapes, opening new outdoor entertainment opportunities for all Americans.” Putting our public lands to work in the face of the climate crisis. ”
Responding to the Republican criticism, Heinrich said Haaland’s political views “are well within the mainstream and fairly represent many of its constituencies, I would say that the vast majority of its voters.”
“I long for the Senate to finally accept Haaland’s assurance so that you can work to protect our natural heritage for future generations,” he said.
This story and title were updated to reflect additional developments on Monday.
Gregory Craig of CNN contributed to this report.
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