WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed the appointment of New Mexico Democratic Congresswoman, Deb Haaland, as Secretary of the Interior on Monday.

Haaland, who is now the first Native American to lead a cabinet agency, was confirmed by a 51-40 vote, while Utah Senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney voted against Haaland’s appointment.

Romney released a statement regarding his decision to vote against Haaland’s nomination.

“I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Rep. Haaland to discuss several issues of importance to Utah, including the recent temporary suspension of federal energy leases, and concerns regarding the Administration’s intent to assert greater federal control over public lands – both of which would be detrimental to our state,” Sen. Romney said in a news release.

Sen. Romney also said that he discussed the review of Utah monuments Bears and Gran Staircase-Escalante saying he “reiterated the delegation’s preference for a permanent legislative solution that provides certainty and reflects state, local, and tribal input.”


In his first few hours of being in office, President Biden signed an executive order to review the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments.

Utah’s congressional delegation Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Mitt Romney (R-UT), Representatives Chris Stewart (R-UT), John Curtis (R-UT), Burgess Owens (R-UT), and Blake Moore (R-UT), as well as state officials Governor Spencer Cox, Attorney General Sean Reyes, Senate President Stuart Adams, and Speaker of the House Brad Wilson then put out the following statement opposing the order:

“For over 25 years, Utah has been the center of controversial and divisive unilateral national monument decisions. Roughly two-thirds of our backyard belongs to the federal government, which has meant land management actions have often been done to us rather than with us. A review in name only with predetermined results, which ultimately leads to a unilateral executive order enlarging the monuments’ boundaries, will not solve the root of the problem and will only deepen divisions in this country.

We share a sincere desire to find a collaborative, broadly supported solution to the political football of national monuments in Utah, specifically Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments. It is imperative that President Biden bring the State of Utah to the table and work with state and local elected leaders toward a consensus product, including a permanent solution approved by Congress.

President Biden championed a message of unity during his campaign, and we stand ready to work across party lines towards a permanent solution.”

Two years ago, President Trump downsized the two monuments, and then last year implemented a new management plan.

Ultimately, Sen. Romney voted against Rep. Haaland’s nomination, saying ““Based on Rep. Haaland’s record and views on land management and energy resources, including her support for radical policies like the Green New Deal, I am not able to support her confirmation to lead the Interior Department.”