Republicans nixed a vote on President Bush's pick to head the agency in charge of mine safety.

The Senate was supposed to vote June 15 on Richard Stickler's nomination to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration, but the vote was called off after Republican leaders realized Stickler would not receive the 60 votes needed for approval.

Democrats had opposed Stickler's nomination from the start, saying they were concerned Stickler spent too many years as a coal mining executive and that safety would not be his top priority.

Stickler needed 60 votes instead of the simple majority thanks to political maneuvering by Democratic Senator Robert Byrd from West Virginia, according to the Associated Press.

Byrd used a procedure known as a legislative hold to block Stickler's nomination. Stickler needed 60 votes to overcome the hold.

Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) issued a statement calling on Bush to “reconsider and to nominate someone to this crucial position who is a proven champion for mine workers’ safety.”

Stickler's nomination also received opposition from some family members of the 12 men killed in a West Virginia mine earlier this year.

The family members of the men who died in the Sago Mine disaster asked lawmakers to vote against Stickler because they thought he would be more concerned about production than safety.