Senate Democrats and the chamber’s two independents have seen enough from President Donald Trump’s pick to serve as permanent director of the Bureau of Land Management ― all 47 of them have signaled that they will vote against confirming William Perry Pendley, a self-proclaimed “sagebrush rebel” with extreme anti-environmental views, to the post.
In a Tuesday letter, the entire Senate Democratic caucus, which includes the independents, slammed Pendley and urged Trump to pick a new nominee.
“Mr. Pendley’s public record, including his advocacy for reducing public lands and access to them, routine attempts to undermine tribes, and climate change denial makes him unfit for the position,” reads the letter, led by Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.
“We urge you to identify a new, qualified candidate for this critical position ― one who supports public lands and the mission of the Bureau of Land Management,” the lawmakers said.
Trump officially nominated Pendley, a conservative lawyer from Wyoming with a long history of advocating for the sale of federal lands in the West, in June to serve as BLM’s permanent director. He has run the bureau in an acting capacity for more than a year, thanks to a backdoor appointment that put him in charge of overseeing 245 million acres of public land — more than 10% of the entire U.S. landmass — and 700 million subsurface mineral acres.
Republican control of the Senate means Pendley could win confirmation if most of the GOP bloc unites behind him but signs have emerged that the nomination could be in trouble.
The White House waited nearly eight weeks to submit the paperwork necessary for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to move forward with Pendley’s confirmation, and the panel’s chairwoman, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), has not yet scheduled a hearing to consider the nomination.
If and when she does, supporting Pendley could prove particularly awkward for GOP Sens.