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Latino Daily News

Friday May 27, 2011

Sen. Vitter Blocks Pay Raise for Secretary Salazar Until Gulf Drilling Permits Issued

Sen. Vitter Blocks Pay Raise for Secretary Salazar Until Gulf Drilling Permits Issued

Photo: Louisiana Sen. David Vitter

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Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (R) has said that he will block the pay raise for President Obama’s Secretary of the Interior, until the Interior Department allows more access to of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s aides said he asked that Senate Majority Leader Harry Ried withdraw any effort to address the raise. In a document to Reid, Salazar said Vitter’s underhanded attempts to get more drilling permits was “wrong” and called it “attempted coercion.”

Vitter is demanding that Salazar and his colleagues open additional drilling permits in the Gulf. The issue has been a hot topic in the region since last years oil spill. In a letter to Salazar, Vitter “threatened to use a procedural move that would allow him to block Salazar’s pay adjustment,” MSNBC said.

A portion of the letter read, “[W]hen the rate of permits issued for new deepwater exploratory wells reaches pre-moratorium levels (6/month), I will end my effort to block your salary increase.”

Salazar’s raise would be about $19,600. His aides stated that the request for the raise was not his doing and he does not want the vote on additional Gulf drilling permits to occur in response to Vitter’s threat.

Senate Majority Leader Reid issued a statement saying, “I have worked with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on this issue for weeks and it is wrong for Sen. Vitter to try to get something in return for moving forward on a matter that the Senate has considered routine for more than a century. Ken Salazar is extremely well-qualified, hard-working cabinet secretary, and deserves better than to be strong armed while trying to do an important job for the American people.”