Thanks you Richard Shelby for a timely reminder that the sleazy culture of legislative manuevering is bipartisan. From Talking Points Memo:
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put an extraordinary "blanket hold" on at least 70 nominations President Obama has sent to the Senate, CongressDaily (sub. req.) reports. 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.
"While holds are frequent," CongressDaily reports, "Senate aides said a blanket hold represents a far more aggressive use of the power than is normal."
Shelby has been tight-lipped about the holds, offering only an unnamed spokesperson to reporters today to explain them. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid broke the news of the blanket hold this afternoon after Shelby announced it to him in a letter sent today. Reid aides told CongressDaily the hold extends to "all executive nominations on the Senate calendar."
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. CongressDaily laid out the programs Shelby wants to move forward or else:
- A $40 billion contract to build air-to-air refueling tankers. From the report: "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."
- 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."