Senator removes hold on nominee to lead Army Corps

Nominee now likely to be confirmed in a “matter of days;” hold was placed to protest mismanagement of New Orleans levees.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., lifted her hold on President Bush's nomination of Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp to head the Army Corps of Engineers after Van Antwerp visited Louisiana and spoke with state officials about Hurricane Katrina rebuilding.

"What sealed the deal for me was when he went down to Louisiana," Landrieu told reporters following a meeting with Van Antwerp in her Capitol Hill office Monday.

She said his nomination should be confirmed by the Senate in "just a matter of days now." Landrieu does not believe there are any other Senate holds on Van Antwerp, who did not speak to reporters after leaving her office.

Van Antwerp met with the Louisiana delegation on Capitol Hill April 16 before touring Louisiana levees and wetlands and meeting with state and local officials April 19 and 20. Landrieu said she was impressed when Van Antwerp sent a personal note to many he met in her state and knew the names of parish presidents. "He didn't just go down there to punch the card," she said.

Landrieu had placed the hold on his nomination to protest what she called mismanagement of the New Orleans levees. "This was never personal and it never was political," she said.

He and Landrieu also agreed generally on "the importance to just use common sense to expedite these projects and to use a streamlined, coordinated approach," she said. They also agreed to use dredged materials to build up the Louisiana coast and levees, she said.

Landrieu said Van Antwerp agreed that rebuilding Louisiana "is not a one- or two-year project. He said, 'Senator, this is a 30-year project.'"

Bush nominated Van Antwerp in February to replace Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, who resigned in August.