Democrats back Biden US lands pick assailed by Republicans

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A bitterly divided U.S. Senate panel deadlocked Thursday on President Joe Biden’s pick to oversee vast government-owned lands in the West, as Democrats united behind a nominee whose credibility was assailed by Republicans over her links to a 1989 environmental sabotage case.

The 10-10 tie in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee sets up a floor vote on the nomination of Tracy Stone-Manning. It would take every Senate Republican plus at least one Democratic lawmaker to block her confirmation in the evenly divided chamber.

At stake is the leadership of the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management, which oversees energy production, grazing, mining, recreation and other activities across almost a quarter-billion acres of public lands, primarily in the West.

Stone-Manning was a top aide to former Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock and Sen. Jon Tester and most recently worked as a vice president at the National Wildlife Federation. Her advocacy for land preservation contrasts sharply with the land bureau's priorities under former President Donald Trump, who sped up oil and gas drilling and sought to open new lands to development.