Biden Interior secretary pick Haaland clears key Senate vote

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate panel holds hearing on interior secretary nominee
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Valerie Volcovici
·1 min read
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By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate energy committee on Thursday voted 11-9 to advance Representative Deb Haaland to the full Senate to confirm her as Interior Secretary, a key hurdle for President Joe Biden's nominee to head the agency.

If approved by the Senate, Haaland would become the first Native American to lead a cabinet agency.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was the sole Republican on the committee to vote to advance her nomination. She was under pressure to approve Haaland's historic nomination from Alaska's Native Americans, who account for nearly 20% of the state's population.

During her two days of confirmation hearings, Republicans on the committee pressed Haaland on her statements that were critical of fossil fuels and on the Biden administration’s executive orders pausing new federal drilling leases and cancelling a key permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Haaland is almost certain to be confirmed after moderate West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Republican Senator Susan Collins said they would support her confirmation.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Dan Grebler)