WASHINGTON – Rep. Pete Stauber, who caused friction with tribal leaders in his district by opposing a congresswoman and tribal member as the new Interior secretary, on Tuesday sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking that he withdraw her nomination.
The new Democratic president nominated Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico to lead the agency that supervises federal lands around the country. Stauber, a Republican from northeastern Minnesota, cited Haaland's opposition to mining and fracking and her support for the Green New Deal, which emphasizes renewable energy sources over nonrenewable sources like oil and natural gas.
Fourteen House colleagues, all Republicans, joined Stauber on the letter. It called Haaland's nomination "a direct threat to working men and women and a rejection of responsible development of America's natural ollum's resources."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment on Stauber's letter. But the new administration has given no indication it has any intention of rethinking the nomination of Haaland, a member of Laguna Pueblo who would be the first Native American member of a presidential Cabinet.
Leaders of five Indian tribes in Stauber's district sent him a letter expressing their displeasure after his opposition to Haaland became public earlier this month. Tribal leaders were particularly displeased that Stauber did not notify them before working to build opposition to Haaland.
Among the actions Stauber singled out was Haaland's vote to outlaw copper mining on 234,000 acres of the Superior National Forest in northern Minnesota. The bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota, sought to protect the state's iconic Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from pollution.
Stauber supports the mines, saying they will produce jobs with livable wages for his constituents and will include pollution protections. The letter also cited Haaland's membership in the House Progressive Caucus.
While Stauber convinced a handful of fellow House Republicans to get on board, they don't get to vote on Haaland's nomination, which, like all presidential Cabinet appointments, are subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control with a narrow majority.
Jim Spencer • 202-662-7432