Senate Republican won't budge on Interior nominee hold

Vitter put a hold Tuesday on President Obama’s nominee to head the Fish and Wildlife Service, Dan Ashe. He said he will not lift the hold until the Interior Department issues 15 deepwater drilling permits.

The administration has imposed a “de facto moratorium” on deepwater drilling, Vitter claimed, noting that regulators have yet to issue a single deepwater drilling permit since last year’s massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

But the Interior Department says it is working diligently to review permit applications now that it has imposed a series of new safety regulations on the industry. The department has issued a slew of shallow-water drilling permits since the spill.

Vitter has also placed a hold on the nomination of Scott Doney to become the head scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration over his frustrations with the administration’s offshore drilling policies.