Senate confirms Lew as OMB director

The Senate confirmed Jack Lew as director of the Office of Management and Budget by unanimous consent late Thursday after Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., lifted a hold that had stalled the nomination since September.

Landrieu's hold was a protest against the White House's moratorium on deep-water oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP oil spill. Landrieu, who said the moratorium was worsening economic damage from the spill, kept the hold in place even after the drilling ban was lifted last month, as she sought "a clear path forward" for issuing federal permits for deep-water drilling in the gulf.

Landrieu dropped her hold after talks with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday. She said in a floor speech that she allowed Lew's confirmation because "notable progress has been made" in talks with the White House and Interior Department, including a commitment by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to visit Louisiana.

"Tonight I received a commitment from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to provide certainty and regulatory clarity to an industry that has operated in the dark for months with shifting rules," said Landrieu, who is often viewed as the oil industry's best friend in the Democratic Party.

While the White House has lifted the drilling moratorium, drilling allies say they fear a "permitorium." But Landrieu said Thursday night that she's satisfied that the administration will allow new drilling to go forward.

"The secretary will come to Louisiana on Monday to meet with industry and express the administration's support for the oil and gas industry," Landrieu said. "He will outline the path forward so that permits will be issued and the people of Louisiana can get back to work in this vital industry."

Jim Noe, executive director of the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition, thanked Landrieu for her support but indicated that the offshore drilling industry still views the post-spill landscape as an uphill climb.

"We applaud Senator Landrieu for her steadfast support. Her forthright action certainly got the attention of the White House and ensured that our voices were heard," Noe said. However, he added, "Clearly, further challenges lie ahead. The moratorium will not end until drilling begins again. We need permit approvals to return to normal levels for this de facto drilling moratorium to come to an end."

While Reid and Democrats regularly rip Republicans for slowing executive nominees over home-state issues unrelated to the nominee, Landrieu's hold on Lew created an unusual situation in which the White House and Reid were negotiating with a Democrat doing just that. Both the White House and Reid avoided public criticism of Landrieu's hold. In a short speech Thursday, Reid praised Landrieu for defending her state's interest.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.