More than 50 House Democrats are making a formal push for President-elect Joe Biden to select Rep. Deb Haaland as his Interior secretary.
The New Mexico Democrat, who is already being vetted for the position, would be the first Native American Cabinet secretary in the nation’s history.
“You can make history by giving Native Americans a seat at the Cabinet table for the first time,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter, obtained by POLITICO on Thursday.
The letter, led by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, was delivered to the Biden transition team this week. Grijalva also endorsed Haaland for the post this week in a letter to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
The letter was signed by about half of the Democrats on the committee. The signatories include progressives such as Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), as well as members of the moderate Blue Dog Caucus, such as Reps. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and Ed Case (D-Hawaii).
Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), who was elected assistant speaker on Wednesday, making her the No. 4 House Democrat, also signed the letter.
The Interior secretary is charged with the management of public lands as well as the federal government’s relationship with Native nations. Haaland is a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, a federally recognized tribe near Albuquerque, N.M., and she is one of only two Native American women ever elected to Congress.
The Democratic lawmakers’ letter notes that Haaland has “significant experience working and living in Indian Country,” referring to her role as a tribal administrator and an organizer fighting for tribal voting rights.
A group of Native American organizations also sent Biden a letter this week backing Haaland.
Original story here.