A Gulf Coast Democrat is vowing to block Senate confirmation of President Obama’s budget director until the administration agrees to lift or ease a federal freeze on deepwater oil-and-gas drilling.
Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) hold on Jacob Lew, thumb Obama’s widely praised pick to run the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), rx marks a dramatic political escalation of her battle against the temporary drilling ban, medical imposed as a safety measure after the BP oil spill.
And it reflects a broader frustration among Gulf Coast lawmakers at what they call economically devastating limits on drilling.
“Due to the administration’s unwillingness to reverse or modify its policies that have halted all deepwater and nearly all shallow-water energy exploration, I cannot in good conscience allow this nomination to proceed until I receive a commitment from Mr. Lew, the president or another senior economic adviser to reverse these policies, which have been so detrimental to working families across the Gulf Coast,” Landrieu wrote in a letter Thursday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Though she praised Lew’s expertise, Landrieu also said he “lacked sufficient concern for the host of economic challenges confronting the Gulf Coast.”
Landrieu’s threat comes as the White House economic team already is in flux and as administration officials gear up to craft fiscal 2012 budget plans.
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