WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate on Tuesday agreed 50-49 to bring to the floor the nomination of Montana’s Tracy Stone-Manning to head the Bureau of Land Management, following weeks of GOP attacks over her ties to a 1989 tree-spiking scheme.
Due to a deadlocked 10-10 vote out of the U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D-N.Y.), had to use a special procedure to discharge the nomination from the panel.
Additional Senate votes are not yet scheduled. But when a final vote occurs on the nomination, Vice President Kamala Harris likely will need to be the tiebreaker in a Senate divided 50-50 between the parties, since no Republicans have voiced their support for Stone-Manning’s nomination.
On Tuesday’s vote, the 50th Republican, Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota, was not present.
The ranking Republican on the committee, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, told CNBC this week that all 50 Republican senators would oppose her nomination.
Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, said in an interview with the New York Times that she had the votes needed for her confirmation. Stone-Manning is a former aide to Tester.
“I know Tracy Stone-Manning,” Tester said on the Senate floor on Tuesday. “Tracy Stone-Manning is a tireless advocate for the outdoor spaces that make Montana special.”
He called out Republicans for playing politics with her nomination.
“They have dragged a good person’s name through the muck in a cynical smear campaign ginned up by folks who would rather play politics than see a qualified, competent woman running the Bureau of Land Management,” Tester said.
“Tracy Stone-Manning should never be the director of the Bureau of Land Management,” Barrasso said on the Senate floor on Tuesday.
At the committee meeting where the nomination was voted on, Republicans brought in metal spikes and waved them around, criticizing Stone-Manning for failing to come forward sooner about what she knew about the plan to spike trees. They said she put loggers and forestry workers in harm’s way.
Committee Chairman Joe Manchin III, a West Virginia Democrat, had his staff review hundreds of documents from the tree-spiking trial.
“I have been unable to find any credible evidence in the exhaustive trial record of the tree-spiking case that shows that Ms. Stone-Manning was an eco-terrorist, that she spiked any trees, that she conspired with eco-terrorists to spike trees or that she lied to the committee,” Manchin said.
“What I find instead is compelling evidence that she built a solid reputation over the last three decades as a dedicated public servant and a problem-solver who has brought people together.”
Stone-Manning currently serves as a senior adviser for conservation policy at the National Wildlife Federation, and previously worked as the chief of staff for former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat.
She also worked as the director for Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality, overseeing water, air, mining and remediation programs in the state.