Updated: 10:23 p.m.
The few Senators remaining in the chamber Thursday night confirmed Jacob Lew as director of the Office of Management and Budget by voice vote after Sen. Mary Landrieu lifted her hold.
The Louisiana Democrat has held up the nomination since September to protest a deepwater-drilling moratorium that the Obama administration imposed after the explosion of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico in April. The moratorium was lifted last month, and Landrieu said at the time that the move was a “good start” but that she would monitor the administration’s handling of drilling permits before deciding whether to let Lew’s nomination go forward.
In a floor speech after the vote Thursday, Landrieu said she was lifting her hold “because notable progress has been made, permits have been issued.”
She also credited Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s promise to work with the oil and gas industry. “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,” she said in a statement after the vote and her speech. “The Secretary will come to Louisiana on Monday to meet with industry and express the Administration’s support for the oil and gas industry. 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. Given this commitment, I released my hold, so that Jack Lew can get to work balancing the federal budget and putting this country back on a path of fiscal discipline.”
President Barack Obama had pressed the Senate to clear Lew’s nomination during the lame-duck session. The OMB has been without a confirmed director since July 31, when Peter Orszag stepped down.
Obama said in a statement Thursday night that he was pleased with Lew’s confirmation. “He brings unparalleled experience and wisdom to this important job at a critical time in our nation’s history,” the president said. “After years of irresponsibility in Washington, we need to make the tough choices to put our country back on a sustainable fiscal path and lay the foundation for long-term job creation and economic growth. We need to cut waste where we find it and create a government that is efficient, effective, and responsive to the American people. I am confident Jack Lew can lead us in these efforts, and look forward to working with him in the days ahead.”