WASHINGTON (CNN)– The Senate Democratic leadership is preparing to lose a vote Wednesday morning on the confirmation of David Hayes as Deputy Secretary of Interior. If that happens, it would be the first time Congress votes to reject one of President Obama’s nominees.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s spokesman Jim Manley tells CNN that Democrats believe Republicans will vote in lockstep to block Hayes’ nomination, and therefore, it will fail.
Republican objections to Hayes appear to have little to do with him or his qualifications, and more to do with an Obama administration policy.
Specifically, Utah Republican Robert Bennett has been leading his party’s opposition to Hayes because of an Obama decision to cancel oil and gas leases in Utah.
“This is not about Hayes,” Bennett spokeswoman Tara Hendershott tells CNN.
She says Bennett is blocking Hayes because the Department of Interior “has not provided any information he requested regarding the Secretary’s unilateral decision to cancel the oil and gas leases.”
If Republicans do successfully block Hayes’ nomination, it will be the starkest illustration yet of what it means for Democrats to have 59 seats – just one shy of a filibuster proof majority – as the Minnesota Senate race remains unresolved.
“The American people deserve better than political games that do nothing but waste their time. And the President deserves to have a complete lineup when his team takes the field on the most important issues we face,” Manley, Reid’s spokesman, says.
Manley says that if Hayes does in fact fail, as they expect, it is unclear whether the White House will pull his nomination, or try to find a way to revive it.