Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate in support of David Hayes, President Obama’s nominee to be Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Senators with good intentions can disagree on the issues. They can disagree with our nation’s leaders.
“But we should all be able to agree that the President and his Cabinet deserve to have a complete lineup when their team takes the field on the most important issues we face.
“And the American people deserve the leaders they asked for in November when they demanded we clean up the mess the last Administration left behind.
“One of those key players is David Hayes, whom President Obama has nominated to be Deputy Secretary of the Interior.
“Mr. Hayes served successfully in this same position during the Clinton Administration and understands better than anyone what it takes to effectively run a department of nearly 70,000 people.
“As the Deputy Secretary of the Interior, Hayes would work closely with our former colleague, Secretary Salazar, on important decisions about:
- developing renewable energy sources that will create jobs;
- protecting our wildlife;
- preserving our public lands for future generations; and
- keeping our water clean and accessible.
“David Hayes will play a central role in correcting the mistakes of the past and making important decisions for our future.
“The past eight years of the Interior Department were marked by mismanagement and scandal. Secretary Salazar’s department has inherited the unenviable task getting the American people to once again trust an agency that manages one-fifth of the nation’s landmass and 1.7 billion acres off our coasts.
“The Department is also moving us forward in critical ways. Secretary Salazar has made it clear that he will take dramatic strides to move our country toward energy independence. With David Hayes’ help, he will ensure that our country is harnessing the wind, the sun and the geothermal potential that will set us free from our dangerous dependence on oil.
“Secretary Salazar deserves the opportunity to have the best and most knowledgeable people around him to make this energy revolution happen. David Hayes is first on that list.
- He is experienced, pragmatic and creative.
- He graduated with honors from Notre Dame and graduated from Stanford Law School, where he was an editor on the law review.
- For 30 years, he has worked in natural resources and environmental law.
- He has written dozens of articles and book chapters about water-supply issues, clean energy and land conservation – among other important topics.
- He has a long and impressive track record of negotiating the same kind of difficult issues our Department of the Interior deals with every day.
“But he cannot get to work until this body confirms him.
“In a repeat of a scene we have unfortunately become far too familiar with lately, a small number of Republicans are standing in the way.
“I know that those holding up Mr. Hayes’ nomination feel passionately about their priorities – but I also know that Secretary Salazar and Mr. Hayes believe just as strongly about finding common ground that serves all of our interests.
“The real issue here is not Mr. Hayes’ qualifications. The real issue here is the fact that in the waning minutes of the Bush Administration, Secretary Kempthorne issued 77 oil and gas leases next door to national parks. The National Park Service, the environmental community and the people of Utah were all concerned by this decision. And Secretary Salazar, when he took office, withdrew those designations for further review.
“Every state has unique challenges. Mr. Hayes is prepared to travel across the West to confront them head-on – not so he can tell states what to do, but rather so he can work with them to address each issue thoughtfully and respectfully.
“Working together toward such solutions is the answer – robbing a Cabinet Secretary of his right-hand man is not.
“Secretary Salazar knows the Senate and his door is open to every member in this body. Mr. Hayes has and will continue to do the same.
“Now is the time to move forward – not to drag our feet, or to posture, or to try to score political points.
“Ask anyone who knows him, and they will tell you that among the many skills David Hayes brings to the table is his ability to work cooperatively and in a bipartisan fashion on the most complex issues. I wish our Republican colleagues would show the same spirit on at least the simple ones – like confirming such a clearly qualified candidate for such a critical job.
“David Hayes is a good and honest man. He is a bright, successful and proven leader. And our country is fortunate that he has once again answered the call to serve.”