Senate GOP Blocks Obama Interior Nominee
By Paul Kane in Capitol Briefing:
Updated, 1:10 p.m. ET: At a press conference after the vote, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) vowed to bring the nomination back to the floor next week when all Democrats would be present. "With their votes next week, he will be approved," Durbin said.
On a party-line vote, Senate Republicans blocked President Obama's nominee to be deputy Interior secretary amid a fight over the agency's new rules on oil and gas drilling, the first administration appointee to be turned back on a floor vote.
The nomination of David J. Hayes, a natural resources lawyer with vast experience in federal lands issues, fell just short of the 60 votes needed to cut off debate and move to a final vote, only the second time this year that the GOP held together on a major action to block the president's agenda or his nominees on a filibuster vote.
Hayes received 57 votes, but he has more support than that. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) switched his vote to 'nay' in a parliamentary move that allows him to bring up the nomination again under fast-track rules should the administration reach an accord with Republicans. In addition, three Democrats who would support Hayes were absent -- Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.), John Kerry (Mass.) and Barbara Mikulski (Md.).
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