White House nixed Deb Haaland's Southwest-themed party over COVID concerns

The White House recently ordered that a 50-person, Southwest-themed indoor party the Interior Department was planning to celebrate Secretary Deb Haaland’s confirmation be canceled after senior administration officials raised concerns that it could become a superspreader event.

Jennifer Van der Heide, the Interior chief of staff, had wanted a reception held for Haaland’s friends and allies and had even sought a catering estimate for New Mexican-style food, but senior Biden administration officials raised red flags about the party, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The White House eventually got wind of the planned event, and the Office of Cabinet Affairs ordered it shut down before invitations could be sent out, the people said.