Representative Deb Haaland is President-elect Joe Biden’s preferred candidate to lead the Interior Department though a final decision has been delayed as House leaders express concerns about filling her seat and other vacant spots.
The selection process was described by people familiar with the matter.
If chosen and confirmed as Interior secretary, Haaland would become the first American Indian cabinet secretary in U.S. history. Haaland, a Democrat, was just elected to her second term representing New Mexico in the House.
But top House leaders, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, have warned the Biden-Harris transition team against picking another Democrat for a cabinet post. While a Democrat is governor of New Mexico and the seat would likely stay in Democratic hands, it could take months to hold a special election.
Biden previously tapped two other Democratic Representatives, Cedric Richmond of Louisiana and Marcia Fudge of Ohio, for cabinet posts. While the seats are likely to remain in Democratic control, the wait to fill them in special elections will leave House Democrats with a narrower majority.
Gina McCarthy, a former EPA administrator, is a finalist to run a new White House office on climate change, a person familiar with the matter said.
McCarthy, who now leads theNatural Resources Defense Council, was the driving force behind President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat climate change through regulation, including his signature Clean Power Plan.
— With assistance by Jennifer Epstein, Billy House, and Jennifer Jacobs
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