Landrieu Maintains Hold on OMB Nomination

Posted September 28, 2010 at 5:03pm

Top administration officials were unable to persuade Sen. Mary Landrieu on Tuesday to lift her hold on the nomination of Jacob Lew to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget, making it unlikely that he will be confirmed before the Senate adjourns this week.

The Louisiana Democrat announced her hold in a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) last week, saying the move was in protest over President Barack Obama’s ban on deep-water offshore drilling. Landrieu’s office confirmed that she had separate meetings Tuesday with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees offshore oil exploration. They discussed the drilling ban and her hold, but the meetings did not yield progress, her office said.

Landrieu has blasted the administration’s six-month drilling ban since it was imposed following the explosion in April of a BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. In her letter to Reid last week, she said: “I have done everything within my power to get this administration’s attention. But the policy remains in effect, and Louisiana’s economy continues to suffer.”

Despite Landrieu’s hold, Lew’s nomination has broad bipartisan support. Only liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has criticized his record, charging he would not do enough to boost the middle class. Senate Democrats hope to clear a package of nominees before adjourning this week for the midterm elections, but Lew’s name is unlikely to be in that group.

Lew is the deputy secretary of State for management and resources and served as OMB director under President Bill Clinton from 1998 to 2001. His nomination was approved, 22-1, by the Budget Committee on Thursday, and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs panel, which shares jurisdiction over the nomination, unanimously approved him during a Tuesday markup. Landrieu is a member of that panel, although she did not vote on the nomination.