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Aliyah Chavez
Indian Country Today

With crucial support from bipartisan Sens. Joe Manchin and Lisa Murkowski, Rep. Deb Haaland is very likely to become the next Interior secretary. This ultimately would make her the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency in history.

But the question on many minds is when she could officially be confirmed by the U.S. Senate in order to take office.

Political expert Holly Cook Macarro, Red Lake Band of Ojibwe, estimates Haaland’s nomination will be voted on by the full Senate on March 15.

At this voting event, if Haaland receives a majority of votes on the Senate floor, she will be the nation’s 54th Interior secretary. It is expected she has the votes she needs.

After being confirmed by the Senate, Haaland will likely be publicly sworn into office either the same day or the next day.

Previous estimates by Macarro, who has more than 20 years of experience advocating for tribes in Congress, included that Haaland’s critical vote as a member of the U.S. House would be needed to pass the COVID relief bill.

The bill is expected to pass the House March 10, where Haaland will likely vote on it, before the bill heads to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

Before all of this happens, Haaland will still have to overcome procedural hurdles in the Senate.

One of those hurdles has already happened when, in early March, Haaland cleared the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources committee. This means her nomination has been moved to the full Senate floor. 

(Related: Senate energy panel backs Haaland for interior secretary)

What happens next?

The short answer: a series of procedural steps are expected to lead up to the full U.S. Senate voting on Haaland’s nomination.

On March 9, Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer filed a cloture on Haaland’s nomination, essentially limiting how much debate can happen on her nomination.

This is key because two Republican Sens. Steve Daines of Montana and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming put holds on Haaland’s nomination earlier Tuesday. The hold on Haaland’s nomination would force a debate of up to 30 hours.

Moving forward, the full Senate will vote on the cloture. If the cloture is invoked, which is highly likely, the full Senate will consider Haaland’s nomination. At this point, all 100 senators will vote on whether or not to approve her for the post.

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3/9: This story has been updated following Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer’s filing of Haaland’s cloture