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Senate GOP Blocks Obama Interior Nominee

By Ed O'Keefe

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.

Original Post

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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By Ed O'Keefe  | May 13, 2009; 2:45 PM ET
Categories:  Congress  
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