WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) highlighted issues she hopes to focus on with the Department of the Interior (DOI) during the first day of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s hearing on the nomination of Representative Deb Haaland (D-N.M), President Biden’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior.
“I thank you for meeting with me a little while ago to discuss policy matters that are very important to me—and of course, the issues that relate to Hawaii’s indigenous, Native Hawaiian community are very important to me. I note, as several have already have noted, how historic and important it is that you will be the first Native American woman…poised to serve as Secretary of the Interior,” Senator Hirono said.
As an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo, Rep. Haaland’s “people were in our country long before the rest of us ever came here. So I think the significance of your background is not lost on any of us,” Senator Hirono continued. “Based on my conversation with you, I would expect that you will be very committed to working with us on Native Hawaiian issues, as well as issues relating to other indigenous peoples—of course the Alaska Natives and American Indians.”
Senator Hirono also noted that if Rep. Haaland is confirmed as Secretary, she wants to work with her to protect native and endangered species and mitigate invasive species in Hawaii. The Senator encouraged Rep. Haaland, if confirmed, to work collaboratively with the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and members of Congress to fairly and collaboratively renegotiate the Compacts of Free Association with the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau, as they are set to expire in 2023 and 2024. Senator Hirono also noted that she hopes to work with Rep. Haaland to address the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and children. The Senator asked about how a transition to clean energy could create jobs—even for families that have worked in the fossil fuel industry. Rep. Haaland responded that there is the potential for millions of clean energy jobs, and that renewable energy technology and innovation will help to create those jobs. Finally, the Senator emphasized the importance of Rep. Haaland’s track record of bipartisanship during her time in the House of Representatives in accomplishing policy goals.
Senator Hirono and Rep. Haaland met last month to discuss shared priorities for Hawaii and the United States.