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Interior Nominee Is Confirmed

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Senate confirmed David J. Hayes as a top Interior Department deputy last night as two Republican senators ended a standoff with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that had held up Hayes's nomination.

Sens. Robert F. Bennett (Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) had blocked the nomination of Hayes, a natural resources lawyer. They led senators who voted to block Hayes's confirmation last week, making him the first Obama pick to be turned back in a floor vote.

Bennett and Murkowski were unhappy that Salazar had canceled oil and gas leases in Utah. Salazar said yesterday that Hayes would review those leases once in office.

"The Senate has sent a clear message that we will hold the administration to its commitment of pursuing a balanced energy approach, which must include developing our energy resources here at home," Bennett said in a statement yesterday. "I have spoken with the secretary, and he has assured me that the review will be more than a 'check the box' exercise."

-- David A. Fahrenthold

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