Energy & Environment

Manchin delays vote on Interior nominee, citing energy crisis

Senate Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) delayed the nomination of a key Biden Interior Department nominee after holding a rare second hearing for her, citing the ongoing energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Manchin spokesperson Sam Runyon confirmed to The Hill Tuesday that Laura Daniel-Davis, President Biden’s pick to be assistant Interior secretary for land and minerals management, would not be among a raft of nominees the committee will vote on Tuesday.

“As we continue to watch energy being used as a weapon of war by Vladimir Putin, the need for increased American energy production is clear to ensure domestic supplies and help our allies,” Runyon said in a statement to The Hill.

“Ms. Daniel-Davis has been nominated to serve in a role that would oversee the federal leasing programs, and Senator Manchin would like to see more from the Department that it intends to get back to the business of leasing and production on federal lands and waters in a robust and responsible way.”

The committee previously deadlocked in a party-line vote on Daniel-Davis in 2021, and at the time, Manchin voted for her.

Nominations that tie in committee can be introduced for a full Senate vote. However, Manchin granted an unusual — but not unprecedented — request from Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) for a second hearing in February. Barrasso’s office cited what he said were a lack of clear answers on energy issues relating to her role.

The decision to hold the second hearing drew criticism from environmental groups and Manchin’s fellow Democratic member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

“Senator Wyden believes the first time Laura Daniel-Davis testified at length on her nomination before the Committee was sufficient,” a Wyden spokesperson said at the time. “This second hearing is nothing more than an opportunity for Republicans to badger, bully and harass a well-qualified nominee for a job that needs to be filled.”

The Interior Department declined to comment to The Hill. 

Tags high gas prices Inflation Interior Department Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Barrasso Ron Wyden Russia-Ukraine conflict Russian invasion of Ukraine Russian natural gas Russian oil Russian oil ban Vladimir Putin

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