Pelosi Gives Biden Her Blessing for House’s Haaland in Cabinet

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi voiced support Wednesday for President-elect Joe Biden to nominate New Mexico Representative Deb Haaland to be interior secretary, eliminating a key obstacle to the pick.

If Biden offers her the job, Haaland would be the third member of Democrats’ narrow House majority to plan to leave for the Biden administration. There were indications that Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders did not want her to leave.

Pelosi Gives Biden Her Blessing for House’s Haaland in Cabinet

“Congresswoman Deb Haaland is one of the most respected and one of the best Members of Congress I have served with,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Congresswoman Haaland knows the territory, and if she is the president-elect’s choice for interior secretary, then he will have made an excellent choice.”

Biden previously tapped two other Democratic representatives, Cedric Richmond of Louisiana and Marcia Fudge of Ohio, for administration posts. While the seats are likely to remain in Democratic control, the wait to fill them in special elections will leave House Democrats with a narrower majority.

That led Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to warn the Biden-Harris transition team against picking another Democratic lawmaker for a cabinet post. While a Democrat is governor of New Mexico and the seat would likely stay in Democratic hands, it could take months to hold a special election.

Under New Mexico law, Haaland would not have to resign her House seat until her confirmation is complete. The New Mexico secretary of state, now a Democrat, would then have 10 days to set the date of a general election to fill the vacancy, to occur within 77 to 91 days of the vacancy taking effect.

Haaland is Biden’s preferred candidate to be interior secretary, people familiar with the matter have said. For weeks, tribal leaders have encouraged Biden to nominate Haaland to lead the Interior Department, which holds trust title to more than 56 million acres of lands for tribal nations and includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She would be the first Native American to hold the job.

The agency also oversees grazing, recreation, energy development and other activities on about a fifth of the U.S. If selected and confirmed, Haaland would be charged with implementing Biden’s campaign promises to ban new fracking on federal land.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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