I don't know a single Louisianian who would agree that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has done a good job of making sure that drilling permits are being issued to get our energy economy up and running. And yet liberals in the U.S. Senate, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, are trying their best to give Salazar a nearly $20,000 pay raise.
That's outrageous, and this week, I sent a letter to Salazar to explain why I'm not going to stand for it. The fact is, Secretary Salazar's mismanagement of the permitting process is causing more Gulf energy workers to lose their jobs every day, and the pace of permitting is abysmal by any reasonable measure -- especially as prices at the pump have soared toward $4 per gallon.
In light of drilling oversight agency director Michael Bromwich's recent admission that his department has only issued one new deepwater exploratory drilling permit since the moratorium was lifted in October, I'm going to continue blocking Salazar's raise until Interior resumes issuing new permits at the same rate as before the BP oil spill.
Salazar once bragged that he would keep his "boot on the neck" of BP; well, blocking Salazar's raise is just my way of keeping a "boot on the neck' of Interior until they get job the done. Surely the secretary can appreciate that approach.
I've also reintroduced a bill this year, with bipartisan support, to eliminate automatic congressional pay increases. In 2009, the Senate adopted a provision nearly identical to my bill, which sought to eliminate the annual raises for Congress, but former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi never called it up for a vote.
Many employees in Louisiana and across the country have lost their jobs or been forced to accept pay freezes, and it makes no sense for Salazar or Congress to continue automatically receiving annual raises without having to publicly vote on it or defend why they deserve it. If Salazar or Congress want a raise, they should have to explain why they deserve it to the American people.
United States Senator