Last week’s confirmation hearing for Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior has raised questions about whether she’s being treated differently because she is a Native American woman.
Haaland would be the first Native American to lead the department.
Those who support the 2-term Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico say Haaland is being attacked for her ethnicity and beliefs that are widespread among Native Americans.
Some white male Republican senators, including John Barrasso of Wyoming and Steve Daines of Montana have labeled Haaland as “radical” over her calls to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and address climate change.
They say it’s not about race but their frustration at Haaland’s lack of specifics to their questions during the hearing.
At one point Wed, Barrasso, former chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, asked Haaland for assurances that she would follow the law when it comes to imperiled species, but before she could finish her response Barrasso interrupted – shouting “I’m talking about the law.”
At the end of the hearing, Louisiana Senator John Kennedy called Haaland a “neo-socialist, left-of-Lenin whack job.”
The congresswoman’s supporters call both incidents “horrible” and “disrespectful, questioning if either would have happened to a white man or woman.
Civil rights activists say Haaland’s treatment fits a pattern of President Biden’s minority nominees encountering more political resistance than white counterparts.