Native American nominee's grilling raises questions on bias
The label of Haaland as a "radical" by Republican lawmakers is getting pushback from Native Americans. The exchange, coupled with descriptions of the Interior secretary nominee as “radical” — by other white, male Republicans — left some feeling Haaland is being treated differently because she is a Native American woman. “As much as I would love to see a Native American be on the president’s Cabinet, I have concerns about her record. Critics also have targeted Vanita Gupta, an Indian American and Biden’s pick to be associate attorney general, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as Health and Human Services secretary. That was seen in Haaland's response when asked about her motivation to be Interior secretary.
US agency cancels Trump policy on conservation purchases
Interior Department officials on Thursday canceled a Trump administration directive that gave local and state officials power to block purchases of land and water for conservation under a longstanding federal program. Trump administration officials had said the order would have allowed the government to fulfill goals that were set when conservation areas were created, by filling in missing pieces of them. Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia and others for undermining the conservation program. They accused the Trump administration of using Bernhardt’s order to circumvent the intent of Congress and squandering the bipartisan goodwill created by passing last year's law. Daines welcomed the move to revoke the order and said in a Thursday statement that the program was a critical tool for conservation.
'Something very historical': Push for diverse Biden Cabinet
African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans and other people of color played a crucial role in helping Biden defeat President Donald Trump. "It's nice to know that a Native American is under consideration," said Haaland, who says she is concentrating on her congressional work. A record six Native American or Native Hawaiian lawmakers were elected to Congress. Tribal officials concur there has never been a Native American as head of interior. The department's websites cite six Native American heads of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which was transferred to the Interior Department from the War Department in 1849.
Land conservation plan stirs fight over Trump restrictions
U.S. officials on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, released details on proposed land conservation purchases for the coming year amid bipartisan objection to restrictions on how the government's money can be spent. – Proposed land conservation purchases in dozens of states would preserve more natural areas within tourist destinations, U.S. officials announced Friday, as lawmakers from both parties pushed back on Trump administration restrictions on how the money can be spent. Bernhardt's order also limits land acquisitions to property inside the existing boundaries of parks and refuges, rather than expanding their footprint. An Interior Department official closely involved in the development of the spending plan defended Bernhardt’s order. Tester spokesman Roy Loewenstein said the senator would push the administration of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden to quickly strike down Bernhardt's order.
How Native American votes help secure Biden's win in Arizona
Native Americans were among the difference-makers who swung the race to Biden in Arizona. That show of force is now translating into leverage for Native Americans seeking more representation in top levels of the federal government. Native voters say they were motivated by many of the same things as other voters. She also was part of a group helping to boost voting among Native Americans. “People need to start paying attention to not only Navajo votes but across the board nationally, Native votes,” Davis said.
Biden gives boost to retiring senator's climate change plan
Udall is retiring from the Senate, but has emerged as a leading contender to be Interior secretary under President-elect Joe Biden. He has urged a shift in land and ocean management away from world-beating oil and gas production to tackling climate change and preserving wilderness. Oil and gas produced from public lands accounts for as much as one-fourth of U.S. carbon emissions. Udall says the Biden plan would make public lands “carbon neutral” by 2030, meaning the lands would absorb as much carbon dioxide as they emit from energy production. As the effects of climate change continue to worsen, “Congress will increasingly feel pressure from the public to get things done,'' Udall said.
Senate control hangs in balance with a few races undecided
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks with reporters during a press conference in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. “We’re waiting — whether I’m going to be the majority leader or not,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday. There already is a Jan. 5 runoff in the state's other Senate race. Securing the Senate majority will be vital for the winner of the presidency. John Hickenlooper defeated GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, and Arizona, where former astronaut Mark Kelly beat Republican incumbent Martha McSally.
Democrats' Senate drive halted by GOP; key races undecided
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Donald Trump’s campaign helped his GOP allies, but that state election officials were still counting ballots. Key Senate races in North Carolina, Alaska and Georgia remained undecided. Democrats contested seats from New England to the Deep South and the Midwest to the Mountain West, reaching deep into GOP strongholds. North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis has struggled against Democrat Cal Cunningham, despite the married challenger’s sexting scandal with a public relations strategist. GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler will face Democrat Raphael Warnock, a Black pastor at the church where the Rev.
Trump pushes mining with order, but effects are uncertain
It’s the latest in a string of actions by the administration meant to boost the mining industry by hastening environmental reviews and shielding companies from international market pressures. Under the 1872 mining law that governs the industry, companies are not required to pay royalties on minerals extracted from public lands. “For too long in the West, the mining industry has enjoyed a sweetheart deal,” Udall said. It directs agencies led by the Interior Department to report back within 30 days on measures they can take to hasten mining projects, and within 60 days with recommendations for imposing tariffs or quotas on China and other U.S. mining sector competitors. Earthworks' Aaron Mintzes said the proposal advances “a mad rush” to advance mining projects before Trump’s term expires at the end of the year.
Dark-money attack ad pastes swastikas on House candidate
Congressional candidate and former CIA operative Valerie Plame of Santa Fe, N.M., seeks support from local party delegates at the Democratic Party preprimary convention in Pojoaque, N.M., Saturday, March 7, 2020. Incendiary new political attack ads against the former CIA operative and candidate for a northern New Mexico congressional seat portray Plame as a disgraced racist millionaire and can be traced to the Alliance for Combating Extremism Fund. Plame said in a statement that the new attack ads are disgusting and have hardened her resolve for campaign finance reforms that would restrict so-called dark money political spending that cannot be traced. The group's attack ads hound Plame for allegedly being embraced by white supremacists and use an image of the candidate with swastikas imposed over her eyes. Another prominent candidate, Teresa Leger Fernandez, called the attack ads extremely offensive and sexist, and said her campaign has no connection to the group behind it.