Vitter blocks Salazar pay hike in drilling battle
WASHINGTON - A senator upset with the pace in which the Obama administration is approving deep-water oil drilling permits has blocked a pay raise for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Salazar is crying foul, accusing Louisiana Republican David Vitter of employing strong-arm tactics and of trying to coerce him into approving new drilling permits in order to get the raise.
Salazar has asked the Senate to drop efforts to increase his salary by almost $20,000.
Salazar's pay is lower than other Cabinet members because of a constitutional requirement that blocks lawmakers who move to the executive branch from claiming pay raises they've voted on while in Congress.
Vitter blocked legislation last week to fix the disparity, saying he was keeping the "boot on the neck" of the department.