Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee in tie vote
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday voted along party lines to advance President Biden’s nominee to head the Bureau of Land Management.
The committee voted 10-10 on the nomination of Tracy Stone-Manning Thursday, which under the committee rules means it will advance to the full Senate floor.
Stone-Manning has been the subject of mounting Republican opposition over her connection to an act of environmental sabotage known as tree-spiking. She testified in court in the 1990s that she had delivered a letter written by another activist threatening such a spiking, in which metal rods are used to disrupt logging.
The Thursday vote came after hours of heated debate on the allegations and whether they should disqualify Stone-Manning, who most recently worked as a senior adviser with the National Wildlife Federation.
“I have taken very seriously, and my staff has done a great deal of research, on all the charges that have been leveled against Ms. Stone-Manning,” Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said in his opening statement Thursday. “Ms. Stone-Manning was never charged with spiking trees, she was never tried for spiking trees, and none of the men who did spike the trees have ever suggested that she did.”
Panel ranking member John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), however, said in his opening remarks that “Stone-Manning collaborated with eco-terrorists, she lied to this committee and she continues to hold extremist views most Americans find reprehensible.”
While Stone-Manning has denied any involvement in the actual spiking, Barrasso accused her of actively collaborating on the planning and only testifying in exchange for immunity.
He went on to accuse her of lying to the committee in a questionnaire in which he asked her if she had “personal knowledge” of plans to spike the trees and denied having been previously investigated.
“It’s hard to imagine a nominee more disqualified than Tracey Stone-Manning,” he said.
Manchin allowed remarks by other committee members ahead of the vote as well.
Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) called it an “insult” that the nomination had reached this point, while Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) slammed GOP committee members for refusing to vote to convict former President Trump in his impeachment trial as the “instigator” of the Jan. 6 insurrection but being “hellbent on dragging Ms. Stone-Manning’s name through the mud.”
Every Republican on the panel has called for the withdrawal of Stone-Manning’s nomination over the incident, as has Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The White House, however, has said it stands by the pick.
“Tracy Stone-Manning is a dedicated public servant who has years of experience and a proven track record of finding solutions and common ground when it comes to our public lands and waters. She is exceptionally qualified to … be the next Director of the Bureau of Land Management,” a White House spokesperson told The Hill last week.