Sen. Sullivan votes to advance Haaland nomination

A woman with long hair and glasses sits at a table
Deb Haaland had a confirmation hearing in the Senate Energy Committee Feb. 23, 2021. (Senate Energy Committee)

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan on Thursday voted to move ahead with Deb Haaland’s nomination to be Interior secretary.

Sullivan was the last of Alaska’s congressional delegation to officially weigh in on Haaland. Congressman Don Young came to her Senate confirmation hearing last month and endorsed her. He knows Haaland from their work on the House Resources Committee. 

Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted in committee to advance Haaland’s nomination to the full Senate. 

Thursday’s Senate vote was on “cloture” — shutting off debate so the nomination can go to a final vote, scheduled for Monday. If confirmed, Haaland would be the first Indigenous person to become a cabinet secretary.

Cloture votes don’t necessarily predict what a senator will do in the final vote. Sullivan is leaving open the possibility he could still vote against her.

“Sen. Sullivan had another hour-long meeting with Congresswoman Haaland yesterday and is following up on numerous commitments Haaland has made to him and continuing to evaluate her responses to questions he has raised,” Sullivan Press Secretary Nate Adams said by email.

RELATED: Alaska Native enthusiasm for Interior nominee puts Murkowski on the spot

Haaland’s nomination creates a dilemma for Alaska’s congressional delegation. She has enthusiastic support from many Alaskans, particularly Alaska Natives, but she’s also advocated against one of the delegation’s major goals: oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She’s also spoken out against drilling on federal lands in general.

RELATED: Biden’s pick for Interior secretary is a passionate foe of drilling in Arctic Refuge

Only four Republican senators voted to advance Haaland’s confirmation today: The two Alaskans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.

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