Biden’s public land choice draws closer to crucial vote in growing Senate confirmation fight
In recent weeks, Republican senators have carried out sustained attacks on President Joe Biden’s choice to lead the Bureau of Land Management, focusing on Montanan’s Twitter feed, his doctoral thesis which included a mock-up of an advertisement. for population control and its links. to a tree crash incident in 1989.
But Tracy Stone-Manning’s confirmation outlook does not appear to be affected as the US Senate returns from its July 4 recess and heads for a potential vote on her appointment as head of the agency that serves as custodian of millions of acres of crown land and priceless mineral resources. .
THE MORNING BULLETIN
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has yet to schedule a confirmation vote for Stone-Manning, a National Wildlife Federation executive and a former aide to Democratic US Senator from Montana Jon Tester and former Governor Steve Bullock.
But her supporters are optimistic it could happen in the next few weeks, though she will likely have to answer other tough questions from Republicans first.
Senate leaders with a busy schedule for the rest of the year may also feel pressure to move ahead of the scheduled chamber recess in early August. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York on Friday told colleagues parts of the break could be canceled to work on an infrastructure bill and other urgent business.
Manchin in the middle
While the Senate was out of session, Stone-Manning supporters and detractors continued their public relations campaigns.
No Democrats on the equally divided committee or Senate have yet said they oppose Stone-Manning’s nomination. But caught in the middle is the chairman of the energy panel, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin III.
Manchin, the Senate’s most conservative Democrat and one of its staunchest supporters of bipartisanship, is often seen as the dividing line within the 50-50 Senate, and he faces pressure to balance the relationship between the two. sides of the aisle.
Republicans on the committee, particularly senior member John Barrasso of Wyoming, strongly opposed the nomination, while Tester, Manchin’s Red State Democratic colleague, and the Biden administration are firmly behind it.
Manchin has not publicly taken a position on Stone-Manning.
Barrasso’s office distributed more research on the opposition during the Senate’s absence, digging into Stone-Manning graduation thesis in 1992, which included examples of advertisements calling for limiting families to two children.
In addition, Barrasso criticized its amplification on Twitter of an article her husband, environmentalist Richard Manning, wrote that seemed unsympathetic to those vulnerable to wildfires.
A crucial element of Barrasso’s opposition is her claim that she misled senators when she answered in a questionnaire that she had never been the subject of a criminal investigation.
Federal investigators subpoenaed Stone-Manning in the early 1990s in connection with tree planting in 1989 – an act of eco-terrorism – in a forest in Idaho. Stone-Manning sent a threatening letter warning that the trees were spiky. She then testified against the organizers of the program, who were convicted.
Barrasso sought to present the summons as an investigation into his involvement, and therefore proof of his dishonesty on the committee’s questionnaire.
“Tracy Stone-Manning lied to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee saying tree enrichment was ‘alleged’ and had never been investigated,” he said. Barrasso said in a statement. “Now we have confirmation that none of these things are true. President Biden must withdraw her appointment.
But Stone-Manning’s supporters have also escalated.
Two former directors of the BLM under Democratic presidents, Neil Kornze, the agency’s last director confirmed by the Senate under President Barack Obama, and Jim Baca, who headed it during President Bill Clinton’s administration, have supported Stone-Manning in a guest column at the Salt Lake grandstand.
“There is only one conclusion here, which two former BLM directors can assure you of,” they wrote. “America’s public lands, and all who use and benefit from them, will not have a better or fairer director of the Bureau of Land Management than Tracy Stone-Manning. “
The column did not directly address the tree planting incident, but did mention his work with Republicans in Montana throughout his career, including as Bullock’s chief of staff and head of the Department of environmental quality of the state.
The column revealed a split between Baca and Kornze and Obama’s other BLM director Bob Abbey. States Press Room first reported Last month, Abbey in an interview said the tree-hanging incident should disqualify Stone-Manning.
Although the group of hunters Dallas Safari Club Withdrew support for her this week, Stone-Manning has also retained support from conservation and outdoor groups.
“Tracy Stone-Manning is as uniquely qualified to lead the Bureau of Land Management today as she was on the day President Biden appointed her,” said National Wildlife Federation spokesperson Mike. Saccone, in an email.
“The Republicans, Democrats and Independents with whom she has worked can attest to the fact that Tracy has the deep experience and collaborative approach to ensure that our public lands are managed for the benefit of all users. We look forward to working with her after her confirmation in the coming weeks.
Rare confirmation scuffle
The protracted battle for his confirmation has been relatively rare for positions confirmed by the Senate during Biden’s presidency.
Biden has officially withdrawn only one other major candidate – also a woman who angered Republicans although her nomination suffered the biggest setback when Manchin opposed her.
It was the former director of the Center for American Progress, Neera Tanden, whom Biden had appointed to head the Office of Management and Budget, according to Terry Sullivan, executive director of the White House Transition Project, a non-partisan project. The organization follows 978 senior positions confirmed by the Senate in the executive branch.
Going back to Ronald Reagan, the average president had withdrawn four candidates for such positions at this point in the presidency, with that number generally increasing in recent years, Sullivan said. President Donald Trump had withdrawn seven and Obama 10.
During his presidency, Trump withdrew more candidates than the previous five combined, Sullivan said.
Typically, presidents remove candidates who did not reveal anything about their background during the selection process, Sullivan said. A stain on a candidate’s record can be fine, as long as the candidate is upfront about it.
“By withholding this information, the person has taken away the president’s right to have a full picture and THAT, and not previous recklessness, is an unforgivable sin,” Sullivan wrote in an email to States Newsroom.
Republican critics of Stone-Manning, including Barrasso, attempted to make the 1989 episode an example of a candidate withholding information.
But when Stone-Manning’s involvement in the tree-planting attempt resurfaced nationally, on conservative news site The Daily Caller, last month, the Biden administration appeared to be listing her as a candidate. transparent on its file.
“She has always been honest and transparent about this,” said at the time an administration official familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly.
The official said on Friday that the administration’s support had not changed.
HELP US TO GROW
Make a tax-deductible donation.
Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a media network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c (3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact editor-in-chief Quentin Young with any questions: [email protected] Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.