Senate Republicans are expected to bring down the first of President’s nominees: David Hayes, Obama’s pick for the No. 2 slot at the Interior Department. The vote, expected at 10:30, has nothing to do with Hayes’ qualifications; he was confirmed to the identical post nine years ago under the Clinton Administration. Western Republicans have been upset with the Departments examination and overturning of some 11th-hour Bush Administration rules. Utah Senator Bob Bennett has been demanding answers about why from his former colleague, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, canceled 77 controversial oil and gas drilling leases in Utah that were immediately challenged in courts upon being issued. And Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is upset about the Department’s reversal of a Bush move to suspend independent scientific review to study projects’ potential impacts of endangered species. “This is not a situation where there’s disagreement about Mr. Hayes’ qualifications,” Murkowski just said on the Senate floor. “This is really about what is happening within the Department. From my perspective the vote can be distilled to one simple issue: the question is will this administration answer questions from Republican senators.”
Needless to say, Democrats are outraged. “This isn’t about David Hayes’ qualifications, it is about several actions taken by the Bush Administration in the final weeks while they were in office an the right of the Obama Administration to review these changes,” said Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat. “I can understand why some of these senators have concerns but I cannot understand why they would obstruct the nomination of David Hayes.” Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, was blunter in his criticism: “This is yet another example of why they are the Party of No.”
Hayes was voted down 57-39. McConnell’s office released an email noting all the Bush nominees that Dems filibustered, or attempted to: Dirk Kempthorne, Richard Stickler, Thomas Dorr, John Bolton (twice).
And Salazar released the below statement:
“This was a tired vote of bitter obstructionism. It may be uncomfortable for some to watch us have to clean up mess after mess – from corruption to lawbreaking – that is the previous Administration’s legacy at Interior, but to cast a vote against such a qualified and fine person is the height of cynicism. 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. 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.”