05 February 2010

Richard Shelby (R-AL) blocks all executive appointments for pork

He must have counted on keeping this a secret, because it is astonishing. Talking Points Memo summarizes adequately:
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put an extraordinary "blanket hold" on at least 70 nominations President Obama has sent to the Senate, according to multiple reports this evening. The hold means no nominations can move forward unless Senate Democrats can secure a 60-member cloture vote to break it, or until Shelby lifts the hold.

...

According to the report, Shelby is holding Obama's nominees hostage until a pair of lucrative programs that would send billions in taxpayer dollars to his home state get back on track. The two programs Shelby wants to move forward or else:
- A $40 billion contract to build air-to-air refueling tankers. From CongressDaily: "Northrop/EADS team would build the planes in Mobile, Ala., but has threatened to pull out of the competition unless the Air Force makes changes to a draft request for proposals." Federal Times offers more details on the tanker deal, and also confirms its connection to the hold.
- An improvised explosive device testing lab for the FBI. From CongressDaily: "[Shelby] is frustrated that the Obama administration won't build" the center, which Shelby earmarked $45 million for in 2008. The center is due to be based "at the Army's Redstone Arsenal."
It's been corroborated by the Financial Times and the Alabama Press-Register - the latter of whom appears to have gotten the scoop in the first place earlier today.

This is about as blatant as you can get. Shelby put 70 anonymous holds out, blocking the appointment of every pending executive nominee. The GOP has been doing this for most of the past year, with various holds being used as blackmail and holding up the appointment of such offices as the head of the Transportation Security Administration. This single Senator has decided that getting blatant pork projects for his state is more important than governing the country.

1 comment:

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