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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Paging Sen. Vitter: Nelson, Martinez are looking for you

U.S. Sens. Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson this morning were looking for Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who is blocking the nomination of former Florida emergency management chief Craig Fugate as head of FEMA.

Fugate, a former Crist appointee turned Obama nominee, has been cleared by the requisite committee and needs only a Senate vote to become head of the Federal Emergency Management Administration. But Vitter has put a "hold" on his confirmation in hopes of gaining leverage in a long-standing dispute with FEMA over emergency housing in southern Louisiana.

As they entered the Senate chamber for votes today, both Nelson and Martinez said they were hoping to talk with him."I'm trying to talk him out of it," Nelson told Buzz. "Let me go work on him, then I'll come back and tell you."

About a half-hour later, Nelson emerged empty-handed. "We couldn't find him."

Martinez, a Republican, said it was dangerous politics for a Republican from storm-ravaged Louisiana to be holding up the FEMA chief just three weeks before hurricane season starts.

"He needs to be in there," Martinez said. "Some people utilize (the nominations) process as a way of making a point or getting attention."

Buzz had seen Vitter enter the chamber before the Florida senators arrived, and he asked about Fugate. Vitter said he needed to go vote, but would come back out to chat. He never did.

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 6:59pm]

    

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