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Manchin will support Deb Haaland for Interior secretary, boosting her chances

Manchin's swing vote is closely watched in contentious nomination battles.
Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., greets Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on her nomination to be Interior Secretary on Feb. 23, 2021.Graeme Jennings / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Wednesday he'll vote to confirm nominee Deb Haaland to be Interior secretary, a significant boost to her prospects.

In a statement, Manchin said that "while we do not agree on every issue, she reaffirmed her strong commitment to bipartisanship, addressing the diverse needs of our country and maintaining our nation’s energy independence."

Manchin's swing vote is closely watched in contentious nomination battles, particularly after he came out against President Joe Biden's budget chief nominee Neera Tanden on Friday, a move that threw her prospects into doubt.

The centrist senator touted Haaland's bipartisan credentials.

"Her colleagues on both sides of the aisle, including Republican Congressman Don Young from the energy rich state of Alaska, spoke to their productive working relationship, her bipartisan accomplishments and sincere willingness to work collaboratively on important issues," Manchin said

"In addition, she reiterated the position of the Biden Administration that our country will continue to use fossil fuels for years to come, even as we transition to a cleaner energy future, through innovation not elimination," Manchin continued. "Further, she made clear her commitment to working to extend the critical Abandoned Mine Land fees set to expire this year that impact countless states."

It is unclear how much support Haaland will get from Republicans, but if all 50 Democratic members are unified she won't need any GOP votes to win confirmation.

"She's got a lot of opposition," Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., told reporters. "I'm not impressed with what I've seen so far. I think she's a radical. I think she's a neo-socialist left-of-Lenin whack job."