Senate Republican puts hold on Interior nominee over drilling

Vitter will not lift the hold until the Interior Department issues 15 deepwater drilling permits and delivers a “full and satisfactory response” to two letters he has sent to the department regarding offshore drilling.

The Louisiana Republican is an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s offshore drilling policies. The administration, he argues, has imposed a “de facto moratorium” on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico because they have yet to issue a single deepwater drilling permit since last year’s massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The administration put forth a series of new offshore drilling safety rules last year that companies must comply with before they can get approval to drill.

Vitter has also placed a hold on the administration’s nominee for chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration over offshore drilling.

Last year, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) placed a hold on Obama’s nominee for the Office of Management and Budget Jacob Lew, citing similar concerns. Lew’s nomination has since been approved by Congress and he is currently serving as Obama’s budget chief.