Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s nomination to be the next Secretary of the Interior cleared the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this morning on a voice vote, with no opposition. However, according to the Associated Press, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., voted “present” instead of “yes” to protest the Bush Administration’s refusal to share a portion of offshore oil and gas royalties with states like hers on the Gulf Coast.
AP writer Matthew Daly reported that committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., chided Landrieu for the move. “I think your cause is not well-served by doing what you’re doing today,” he told her. “What you’re doing essentially is saying no to the nominee. I wish you wouldn’t be doing that to him.” Landrieu reportedly responded that she wasn’t voting against the nomination, and called Kempthorne an “outstanding” nominee.
The nomination now moves to the full Senate, where Senate leaders will try to get a vote before Memorial Day.