Interior Secretary Ken Salazar likely won’t be getting a raise anytime soon.
Citing his “completely unsatisfactory” performance, Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter is blocking a bump in Salazar’s salary until his department grants more permits for deepwater oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.
The proposed $19,600 raise, which would increase Salazar’s salary to match those of other cabinet secretaries, was blocked by Vitter last week when proposed for a unanimous consent vote.
In a letter to Salazar, Vitter wrote, “Given the completely unsatisfactory pace of your department’s issuance of new deepwater exploratory permits in the Gulf, I cannot possibly give my assent.”
Vitter insists that the raise will be blocked until the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) issues more deepwater exploration permits.
“The history behind your pay raise proposal and the insider support it may have here in Washington is irrelevant,” Vitter wrote. “Mr. Secretary, the fact is your polices and your department’s mismanagement of permits is causing more Gulf energy workers literally to lose their jobs every day.”
According to The Hill, there have been 14 permits issued in the past several months, but only one was for a project that had not been halted in the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
BOEMRE must issue six new permits a month before Salazar is given a raise, Vitter says.
Salazar earns less than other cabinet secretaries because he voted to increase the position’s salary when he served in Congress. He was constitutionally required to accept the position’s previous salary when he was appointed by President Obama in 2009.
In a statement, Department of the Interior spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said, “The Secretary of the Interior’s salary should be equal to that of the other Cabinet members. It is that simple, no more, no less.”
Salazar currently earns a salary of $180,100.