This week, we have two really important nominees for President Biden’s Cabinet getting confirmation hearings in the Senate: Merrick Garland for Attorney General, and Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Interior.
Both of these nominations are drawing a fair amount of attention, so let’s take a look at both. It will be really important that we push on our Senators to get both of these important candidates confirmed.
Merrick Garland – Attorney General
For context, let’s remember that under Trump, first Jeff Sessions and then later Bill Barr held this position. (I’m leaving out the acting AGs.) I don’t think I’m overstating things by saying the rule of law suffered greatly under both men. If Merrick Garland is confirmed, he’s got a lot of work to do to re-establish an independent Department of Justice, and tackle some of the biggest law enforcement issues stemming from Trump’s tenure.
Judge Garland has served on the DC Court of Appeals (one of the most prestigious courts in the country) for over two decades. Prior to that, he oversaw the DOJ’s investigations into the “Unabomber,” the Atlanta Olympics bombings, and the Oklahoma City bombings that led to the convictions of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. He was also, of course, famously ignored by Mitch McConnell’s Senate when then President Obama nominated him for the Supreme Court.
This past weekend, Garland released his opening statement (which you can read HERE). Notably, he said he called the insurrection on January 6th a “heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government,” and pledged to “supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol.”
Deb Haaland – Interior Secretary
Deb Haaland, if confirmed, would be the first Native American Cabinet secretary in our history. Her biography states that she is a 35th generation New Mexican. Her nomination would likely fundamentally change how the Department of the Interior works with indigenous people on tribal lands.
For context, recall that Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who resigned from the government under a cloud of multiple investigations, opened more federal lands for oil, gas and mineral exploration and extraction. It’ll come as no surprise to you then, to find out that several Republicans, led by Montana Senator Steve Daines and others whose campaigns coffers are lined with oil and gas money, are attempting to block her nomination.
Indigenous organizations are hitting back. In a strongly worded response to Daines, one of their ads state, “The only radical thing about one of the First People of the Land being nominated to care for it, is that it took over 244 years to happen.”
How you can help
It is really important that we get both Merrick Garland and Deb Haaland confirmed. We need an Attorney General in place as soon as possible to tackle some HUGE issues, and let’s face it, Garland has waited long enough for a confirmation hearing. And I think it is high time that a Native American become the steward of federal lands. I am personally excited by Haaland’s candidacy.
But they both will face opposition from Republicans and so our Senators — both red and blue — need an extra push from us. Please call or email your Senators right away to let them know you want both of these excellent candidates to be confirmed, and you expect their Yes vote.
Thank you for taking action!
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