WASHINGTON—Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director of Operations Michael Nedd was rebuked from several Democratic and Republican members of a House Natural Resources subcommittee Tuesday for not answering multiple questions on the basic functions of his organization.
National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee Chair Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., asked Nedd for various personnel statistics, such as the number of employees of color who lost their jobs as a result of BLM’s relocation last year to Western states. Nedd responded with “Madame Chair, I do not have a number here to provide you with today.”
Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, asked Nedd to commit to a BLM briefing to Congress on how the new Land and Water Conservation Fund plan being drafted by Senate Republicans will affect the BLM.
“I will certainly take that back to the secretary and the director, and we will do our best,” said Nedd.
“That wasn’t a commitment,” responded Curtis.
To five questions from Rep. Jesús “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., on how an agency should handle staff reorganization, Nedd declined to answer, saying each time, “I will be glad to speak to the BLM relocation.”
“Do you understand the question, Mr. Nedd?” asked Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif. “He’s asking your opinion.”
Huffman expressed dissatisfaction at Nedd’s preparation for the hearing on the BLM budget.
“Your unwillingness to answer the most basic questions about the operations of your agency,” he said, “is shocking.”
“It is incumbent on this administration to at least provide a modicum of cooperation in the oversight process” said Huffman. Though his presence has been requested, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has not appeared before the House Natural Resources committee since May 2019.
Huffman complained that the administration was sending officials who “repeat pat answers devoid of information over and over like a wind-up doll” and keep the committee from getting the information necessary to perform oversight.
“This is a disgrace,” said Huffman.