GOP Blocks Obama Interior Dep't Pick
Rejection of top deputy marks first Republican KO of nominee
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 13, 2009 11:31 AM CDT
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar speaks to reporters at the Windpower 2009 conference and exhibition on Tuesday, May 5, 2009, in Chicago.   (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
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(Newser) – Republicans have blocked President Obama's pick for the No. 2 job at the Interior Department because of a flap over oil leases in Utah. In a 57-39 Senate vote, Democrats fell short of the 60 votes they would have needed to advance the nominee past GOP obstacles. It's the first time Republicans have blocked an Obama nominee.

David Hayes is an environmental lawyer picked by Obama to serve as Interior's deputy secretary, the same post he held during the last 3 years of the Clinton administration. Sen. Bob Bennett led Republican opposition to Hayes' nomination after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar canceled oil and gas leases in Bennett's home state of Utah.