Senators Drop Hold, Chamber Confirms Deputy Interior Nominee

Posted May 20, 2009 at 6:07pm

Updated: 9:50 p.m.

David Hayes, tapped by President Barack Obama for deputy secretary of the Interior Department, was confirmed by the Senate Wednesday after after two Republican Members dropped their opposition to the nominee.

Earlier in the day, Republican Sens. Bob Bennett (Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) dropped their hold on the nomination of David Hayes for deputy secretary of the Interior, one week after Republicans successfully blocked the nomination from moving forward.

The two Senators, who charged the agency didn’t adequately explain its decision to cancel oil and gas leases in Western states, “won a commitment from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to respond to their concerns,— according to a statement from Murkowski’s office.

Last week, the Senate voted 57-39, three votes shy of the 60 votes Democrats needed to break GOP opposition to Hayes’ nomination. Bennett and Murkowski led the filibuster effort.

But after receiving assurances from Salazar, a former Democratic Senator from Colorado, the two backed down.

“While it’s unfortunate that it required a showdown on the Senate floor, it’s important that the administration respond in full and in a timely matter to Senators’ questions,— said Murkowski, the ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“The Senate has sent a clear message that we will hold the administration to its commitment of pursuing a balanced energy approach, which must include developing our energy resources here at home,— Bennett added.

“David Hayes, once confirmed, will promptly review the 77 disputed Utah oil and gas parcels, one by one, as I have promised, and we will determine which, if any, are appropriate for development,— Salazar said in a statement. “Though we will agree on some issues and disagree on others, my door will always be open to Senator Bennett and Senator Murkowski.—