Landrieu releases hold on budget director, allows nomination to pass

Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) released her hold Thursday night on the nomination of Jacob Lew to head up the White House's budget office. 

By voice vote, the Senate confirmed Lew to head the Office of Management and Budget. 

Landrieu said tonight on the Senate floor that she was "convinced" that the Obama administration has made "notable progress" in backing away from its moratorium on deepwater oil and gas drilling in the Gulf. 

Several meetings with Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar helped smooth Lew's confirmation, which had been held up since September. 

“Tonight I received a commitment from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to provide certainty and regulatory clarity to an industry that has operated in the dark for months with shifting rules," Landrieu said in a statement after the vote. "The Secretary will come to Louisiana on Monday to meet with industry and express the Administration’s support for the oil and gas industry. He will outline the path forward so that permits will be issued and the people of Louisiana can get back to work in this vital industry. Given this commitment, I released my hold, so that Jack Lew can get to work balancing the federal budget and putting this country back on a path of fiscal discipline.”

Landrieu said Salazar is expected to issue several drilling permits in the coming weeks and he's is making a trip to the Gulf on Monday to reiterate is "commitment to the future of the Gulf." 

Lew's nomination was blocked in September when Landrieu protested administration's six-month halt on drilling permits.

The hold on Lew was designed to "get their attention and I think it did," she said. 

Lew, who will replace Peter Orszag, held the same job in the Clinton administration, helping to balance the federal budget in the late 1990s.