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Why I’m not cheering Senate GOP’s blockage of Interior nominee

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By Michelle Malkin  •  May 13, 2009 12:44 PM

Senate Republicans couldn’t be bothered to stop the confirmations of so many conflict-of-interest-plagued, incompetent, rule-of-law-undermining Obama nominees from Gary Locke to Ron Sims to Eric Holder to Hillary Clinton, but they banded together today to block a deputy Interior Department choice…over a policy decision that had nothing to do with the nominee.

What the hell?

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, the first 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.).

Republicans acknowledged beforehand that the vote was not a rejection of Hayes, who already served for two years as deputy interior secretary in the Clinton administration, but instead was a statement of opposition to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s cancellation earlier this year of leases for oil and gas drilling in Utah wild lands.

More:

Republican opposition to Hayes’ nomination was led by Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, who expressed anger over Secretary Ken Salazar’s recent decision to revoke 77 oil and gas leases in his state. He was joined by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who raised questions about the administration’s plans for oil and gas development and objected to recent reversals of several Bush-era rules on endangered species and mountaintop mining.

Great. Now, the libs can justifiably accuse the GOP of exploiting the nomination process for political ends.

Way to go restoring the “brand.”

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