Senate Committee Advances Nomination of Tara Sweeney to be Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs
Nearly a month after the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held confirmation hearings for Tara Sweeney, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Committee has advanced her nomination, clearing it for action on the Senate floor. Sweeney, who is Inupiat, would be the first Alaska Native to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs and the first woman to hold the position in more than two decades.
“The Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs provides critical support to the Secretary of the Interior in carrying out the federal government’s trust responsibility and government-to-government relationship with Indian Tribes,” said Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who chairs the Committee. “Ms. Sweeney is a capable, proven leader and a powerful advocate for Native American self-determination and tribal sovereignty. Her extensive experience in business and policy development will serve her role in this complex role.”
“Our committee is working to help ensure sound leadership at Interior by moving Ms. Sweeney’s nomination forward to the full Senate,” Hoeven continued.
During her confirmation hearing on May 9, Sweeney said that she would do anything necessary to advance Tribal interests at the federal level, including being willing to “kick down doors if I have to.” Her full opening remarks before the committee are available here. Sweeney was also lauded by both Republicans and Democrats on the Committee.
“I’m encouraged the president chose you, Ms. Sweeney – a Native American nominee with business experience and with a deep connection to your Tribal community,” said Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) at her confirmation hearing. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who also sits on the Indian Affairs Committee and represents Sweeney’s home state, offered similar praise.
Now that Ms. Sweeney has cleared the procedural hurdle of the vote in committee, she could be confirmed by the full Senate before the end of the summer, though the specific date of when that vote might take place is yet unknown.