Press Release

AFT on Confirmation of Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior

For Release:


Sarah Hager Mosby

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Federation of Indian Service Employees President Sue Parton and AFT New Mexico President Stephanie Ly issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate confirmed Rep. Deb Haaland as U.S. secretary of the interior.

AFT President Randi Weingarten said:

“Rep. Deb Haaland has shared the struggles of hardworking New Mexicans in the halls of Congress, championing public education and representing Indigenous Americans who have been historically left out of decision-making rooms. Today is a historic day not only because Haaland is the first Native American Cabinet member of any agency, but because she will direct one of the most ambitious climate and conservation agendas proposed by any American president, helping to create millions of jobs to support our communities and the economy.

“Through her commitment to justice and equity, Deb Haaland will continue her work to undo the grave damage of the Trump administration. Instead of being beholden to corporate interests, she will—as she says—‘be fierce for all of us, for our planet, and all of our protected land.’ She recognizes we all have a stake in the future of our country and deserve a just and vibrant future, from communities hit hardest by climate change, to fossil fuel workers, to those who care deeply for their lands, to those who want clean energy jobs. Her leadership is rooted in her core values of balance, reciprocity and service. She will continue to lead with those values front and center, and will serve the Department of the Interior and the American people well.”

FISE President Sue Parton said:

“As the president of FISE, I work on behalf of 6,700 federal employees across 22 states. We are educators, firefighters, public safety workers, foresters, engineers, accountants, social workers and custodians—among many others—and we share a belief that rural communities should have equal access to education, healthcare, reliable public services, and an environment where we can live and raise our families. As a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, it is not lost on me how momentous the confirmation of Rep. Deb Haaland is for the history books. Now with Secretary Haaland at the helm of the Department of the Interior, I have a sure partner—not only in the work to make sure Native Americans have a voice at the table in building a better future for our country, but in the long-term work to create a fairer and more just life for all people.”

AFT New Mexico President Stephanie Ly said:

“Secretary Deb Haaland is exactly the type of leader we need serving at the Department of the Interior. Many Americans were introduced to Secretary Haaland during her confirmation hearings, but we New Mexicans better know her as ‘Deb,’ a familiar greeting recognizing her years of community organizing and activism prior to her public service in Congress and our nation’s capital.

“She truly embodies what it means to be a public servant. We know her hard work, we know her honesty, we know her compassion for those who are struggling, and we know her willingness to listen. Deb’s commitment to working people, support for quality public education and advocacy for Native communities are well-known in New Mexico, and we are eager for her to be able to share her story and vision with the American people in her new role as a protector of our natural wonders. We know she will be a successful and historic secretary of the interior.”


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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.