White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs blasted Sen. Mary Landrieu’s hold on a presidential appointment as “outrageous” on Thursday.
The Louisiana Democrat announced last week that she was placing a hold on the nomination of Jacob Lew to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget. The move is in protest over the administration’s six-month moratorium on deep-water offshore drilling.
“I think it is a sad day when somebody is held up with such bipartisan support, with the type of experience that’s necessary, in an environment where we have to improve our fiscal picture, that that person is held up for something that is completely unrelated to them,” Gibbs said in a press briefing Thursday.
“We’re not bargaining the safety of oil drilling away for an appointment that shouldn’t be the cause of the type of gridlock that we’re used to seeing in Washington,” he said.
The moratorium was instituted after a BP deep-water oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded in April, resulting in a months-long oil leak.
Landrieu’s office said that separate meetings Tuesday with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, failed to yield progress on her concerns. She has argued that the ban is hurting the economy of the Gulf Coast and that safety improvements could be made without it.
Gibbs called the Senator out at the press briefing Thursday. “I would think people who are concerned about our fiscal picture, who are concerned about where we’re heading in this deficit at a time of crisis, would not do the type of things that Sen. Landrieu is doing,” he said.
The Interior Department issued new safety rules for offshore drilling Thursday but did not lift the moratorium on new deep-water drilling. It is scheduled to expire Nov. 30.
Gibbs said the new rules may move the administration closer to ending the ban. “There are a series of technological and safety reforms that this administration is very serious about implementing that need to be implemented and secured prior to the lifting of that moratorium,” he said. Salazar said Thursday that more safety rules are expected in coming weeks.