But supporters of Haaland, who would be the nation’s first Native American to serve in a presidential Cabinet, say they see a familiar pattern in the Republicans’ rhetoric and their unusual move to voice their opposition even before her nomination hearing was scheduled. They say she’s facing a level of criticism above and beyond the normal fiery Washington political rhetoric.
“Being a minority person and being a person of color, it makes you wonder if she would get this treatment if she wasn’t a person of color, if she wasn’t Indian and if she wasn’t a woman,” said Montana state Sen. Shane Morigeau, a Democrat and a member of the Salish and Kootenai tribes, in an interview. “She became an easy target because we haven’t gotten to this place in our country where we give — especially women and people of color — a fair shot.”
Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo, has been a sharp critic of fossil fuel development, a stance that has made her nomination among the more contentious of Biden’s picks. And she may also face tough questioning from the Democratic chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Joe Manchin, who is the most pro-fossil fuel Democrat and whose opposition may have scuttled another Biden nominee, Neera Tanden.