Vitter Lifts Objections to FEMA Nominee
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) has lifted his hold on the nomination of Craig Fugate to serve as the next FEMA director, ending a holdup criticized by the White House, Senate Democrats and some of Vitter's Republican colleagues as an unnecessary delay fueled by campaign politics.
Vitter held up a full Senate vote on Fugate amid a dispute with FEMA about its rejection of three construction projects on flood-prone Grande Isle, La. The senator first sought information on the agency's rejections of the project more than two months ago and said he had not yet received sufficient answers. Under Senate rules, any senator can hold up a nomination for whatever reason and can choose to do so anonymously.
"Louisianans have gotten way too many easy spoken assurances from FEMA over the last four years that didn't mean anything," Vitter said in a statement this morning. "Now that I've secured a specific written commitment from them on the V-Zone issue, we can move forward." He said he is "very confident" the issue will be resolved soon.
Last week the White House and Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) called on Vitter to lift his objections to Fugate -- especially since the 2009 hurricane season begins June 1 -- suggesting his delay tactics were inspired more by politics than home state concerns. The criticism grew last week when the senator sent an e-mail to supporters explaining that his continued opposition "isn't about politics." Opponents noted however that a link in the e-mail led to a financial donation page on Vitter's 2010 reelection campaign Web site. In response, Senate Democrats yesterday released a Web-only video slamming Vitter's continued opposition.
Vitter faces a potentially challenging reelection campaign next year, but has avoided a serious primary challenge so far. To date, only adult film star Stormy Daniels has said she's seriously considering a run against Louisiana's first-term junior senator.
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