GOP Filibusters Obama’s Deputy Interior Nominee

Posted May 13, 2009 at 9:49am

Updated: 1:14 p.m.

Senate Republicans were successful Wednesday in blocking the nomination of David Hayes for deputy secretary of the Interior Department, charging the agency didn’t adequately explain its decision to cancel oil and gas leases in Western states.

The Senate voted 57-39, three votes shy of the 60 votes Democrats needed to break GOP opposition to Hayes’ nomination. Sens. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) led the filibuster effort.

Both Members have asked for answers from the Interior Department and from Hayes about why certain oil and gas leases in the West have been canceled.

“It has nothing to do with him, it has to do with what’s going on in the department,— said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who voted against the nomination.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a former Colorado Senator, criticized Republicans for a “tired vote of bitter obstructionism.—

“We have answered every question and worked to find common ground on difficult issues, but the American people rightfully want change from the Obama Administration and from the Department of the Interior,— Salazar said in a statement. “We will deliver that change. The American people will know, once again, that the Department of the Interior is wisely managing their treasured landscapes and their natural resources on their behalf.—

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) earlier this week said he wanted to clear a handful of President Barack Obama’s stalled nominations, including Hayes and Cameron Kerry, Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) brother and Obama’s pick for Commerce Department counsel. Reid wants to advance those nominations before the Memorial Day recess that begins on May 22.

“The vote on David Hayes has nothing to do with David Hayes. What we have is a classic hostage taking,— said Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), speaking at a press conference following the vote.

Bayh added that the GOP filibuster “is keeping [Hayes] from working on the very issue they care about.—