Congresswoman Deb Haaland's confirmation hearings continued yesterday, treating the Interior secretary nominee to a second day of Republicans calling her a dangerous radical who wants to kill all the jobs by having the same environmental agenda as dangerous radical Joe Biden. The ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, John Barrasso (Wyoming), got downright nasty yesterday, but after the hearing, committee chair Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) announced his support for Haaland's nomination, so she'll have enough votes to be confirmed.

Haaland has often said that, as a "35th-generation American," her heritage as a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe will help make her a good manager of public lands. If confirmed, she would be the first-ever Native American cabinet secretary, but Native News Online points out that, in the first day of the hearing at least, not a single Republican on the committee bothered to make note of that bit of history. That's even though five Republicans on the committee — Barrasso, Steve Daines, Lisa Murkowski, James Lankford, and John Hoeven — are current or former members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Not much of a surprise -- they came to bury Haaland, not to suggest her nomination is significant in any way.


Here's Barrasso yesterday, doing his best to live up to the fifth through seventh letters of his name:

Barrasso noted that when Haaland ran for Congress in 2018, she suggested that, as the nation transitions away from fossil fuels, New Mexico, which funds public schools with oil and gas revenues, might in part offset their loss by legalizing and taxing marijuana. Not that he acknowledged the subtleties there, especially not the whole thing where we need to stop using fossil fuels to keep the planet habitable for John Barrasso's grandchildren. Barrasso was so proud of his questions that he even put them up on his Senate webpage — though without Haaland's answers, as if they mattered.

BARRASSO: Do you still believe that states should replace oil and gas royalties – used for public education – with taxes on the sale of marijuana? Is that your position?

Haaland replied that her point was that school funding should be diversified, not relying on a single source. Barrasso, certain he had a heck of a gotcha, pressed the point to the point of absurdity:

BARRASSO: Is selling marijuana among what the Biden administration calls the 'better choices' that the Biden administration has promised to give displaced oil and gas workers? Is that the better choice? Marijuana?

Haaland said, politely, that she honestly didn't know what Biden's stance on legalizing weed might be. (It's not part of his clean energy plan, at least.) So Barrasso continued, explaining that Haaland is naught but a filthy drug pusher out to leave Americans with no jobs at all while they get all potted up on weed, and how can America survive that?

BARRASSO: We know what your stance is on replacing the revenue from the energy jobs – the jobs that power our economy and the energy that powers our country. And your preference is to turn to drugs – is what you've recommended to the voters – at a time when we know there is high unemployment and energy workers lose their jobs.

We've seen it in West Virginia, we've seen it around the country. There's been an opioid crisis in this nation, and yet what I hear from you is the answer in a "better choice world is marijuana.

What a serious legislator John Barrasso is! Unfortunately, Haaland didn't take the chance to reply that addiction to fossil fuels is having some pretty serious effects on humanity's long-term prospects, because she is not a snotty blogger. That probably is to her advantage, all in all, since people don't want their drug pushers to be sarcastic.

In the final round of questions, Barrasso circled back to a question he'd asked Tuesday. He noted, pissily, that when he'd asked why Haaland supported permanent protections for grizzly bears, even if their populations had recovered, Haaland had simply replied, "I imagine at the time I was caring about the bears."

Clearly, Barrasso was still steaming over her bear-loving treason, and rather than give Haaland a chance to explain how she would actually do Endangered Species Act stuff as Interior secretary, Barrasso instead just yelled at her.

Barrasso said it was very important to him that the Endangered Species Act "be applied in a responsible manner so we can protect the species that truly need protection," which we guess is the wildlife version of only allowing help to go to the "truly needy." He then brought up Haaland's comment that she was caring about bears when she supported permanent protections for grizzly bears. Caring, huh?

BARRASSO: I want to make sure you will care about the law. There's a law of the land. Will you commit to doing everything in your power to fight the frivolous lawsuits and delist species that government scientists have concluded are fully recovered?

Haaland started to answer that yes, it's an important law, and if confirmed, she would "seek partnership with states, with tribes, with local communities," to discuss enforcing the Act, but Barasso cut her off because partnership is not what matters. He shouted, "I'm talking about the law!"

Remaining calm after that rudeness from the shouty white man, Haaland replied simply, "Sir, I will always follow the law," and Barrasso's time was up before he could ask whether she would legalize recreational marijuana for grizzly bears.

There were other odd moments, like when Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines fretted that Haaland's previous support for banning semi-automatic assault rifles might lead her to diminish "shooting and hunting opportunities on our public lands," apparently for people who need to hunt 30 to 50 feral hogs that run into their campsite in the national forest. Haaland essentially replied, excuse me, Native American person here:

HAALAND: I am a Pueblo woman. We've been hunting wild game for centuries [...] That's the reason I'm sitting here today, because my ancestors sustained themselves through those practices.

Yeah, but what about with an AR-15?

In any case, Manchin's pledge of support, following the hearing, coupled with enthusiastic support from Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young, which may persuade some moderate Rs, meant Haaland should have a clear path to confirmation, no matter how much the oil-soaked Republicans gripe. So far, a committee vote to send her nomination to the full Senate hasn't been scheduled yet. But once she's confirmed, expect huge celebrations from Indigenous people.

And of course, from the bears. Might want to stay away from backcountry outhouses for a few days after.

[Native News Online / Jennifer Bendery on Twitter / Nevada Current]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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