Senators remove hold on David Hayes to be Deputy Secretary of the Interior after Salazar vows to address their concerns on energy policy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Bob Bennett, R-Utah, today won a commitment from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to respond to their concerns about recent administration decisions regarding the nation’s energy policy.
Murkowski and Bennett placed holds on the confirmation of David Hayes as Deputy Secretary of the Interior following the administration’s refusal to respond to questions about specific decisions the administration undertook on energy policy.
The issue came to a head on the Senate floor last Wednesday when the Majority Leader forced a vote to advance the Hayes nomination. Republicans defeated the cloture vote 57-39, leaving Democrats three votes shy of the needed 60 to overcome a filibuster.
“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 Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“The Obama administration has spoken frequently about taking a balanced approach to energy policy and now it knows that we’re serious about holding it to that commitment,” Murkowski said.
Bennett issued his hold two months ago after Secretary Salazar, using inaccurate information, revoked 77 oil and gas leases in Utah. Salazar spoke to Bennett on Wednesday and assured him that he would conduct a full review of the decision.
“The victory on the Senate floor last week elevated this to a high enough level that the secretary began a personal review of the issue and has admitted that the department relied on inaccurate information,” said Bennett, a member of the Senate 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 said. “I have spoken with the secretary, and he has assured me that the review will be more than a ‘check the box’ exercise.”
Murkowski, who joined Bennett in his objection to advancing Hayes’ nomination at the beginning of May following a series of Interior decisions that raised doubts about the administration’s commitment to pursuing a balanced energy policy, received a similar promise from Salazar to respond in full to her concerns.
“I’m now comfortable with the commitment we’ve gotten from Interior Secretary Salazar and am pleased to be able to release my hold on David Hayes. I look forward to working with him as Deputy Secretary of the Interior.”
Neither Murkowski or Bennett had asked Interior to adopt or repeal and specific rule or policy, or take or repeal any specific administrative action.