Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso got testy at Deb Haaland’s confirmation hearing Wednesday. (Senate screen grab) Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso got testy at Deb Haaland’s confirmation hearing Wednesday. (Senate screen grab)
WASHINGTON — In a bitter and at times high-decibel round of questioning at her confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Interior nominee Rep. Deb Haaland again fielded questions from Senate Republicans from oil and gas-producing states about the Biden administration’s energy policies.
It was the New Mexico Democrat’s second morning in front of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which will vote on whether to advance her history-making nomination as the first Native American to serve as Interior secretary.
GOP Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the top Republican on the committee, pressed Haaland about fossil fuels and also grizzly bears. Barrasso argued that the Endangered Species Act is an important tool used in conservation, and that a bill Haaland supported would have overstepped science that has concluded that some species should be removed from the list.
Haaland began to answer that if confirmed she would work with local tribes, communities and scientists at the agency when it comes to the act.
But Barrasso interrupted her and shouted, “I’m talking about the law.”
“Sir, I will always follow the law,” she said
The intense exchange came after committee Chairman Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, left for another meeting and let Barrasso take over chairing the hearing.
Separately, Montana Sen. Steve Daines, also a Republican, voiced his frustration with Haaland’s answers as to how she would advise the president, and Daines questioned her closely about her call to ban some semi-automatic weapons.
“Why should Congress believe that you will work to protect and expand shooting and hunting opportunities on our public lands?” he asked.
Haaland has expressed her support for banning