Really, there are lots of dumb people on this earth: Shelby Blocks All Obama Nominations In The Senate Over AL Earmarks
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.
"While holds are frequent," CongressDaily's Dan Friedman and Megan Scully report (sub. req.), "Senate aides said a blanket hold represents a far more aggressive use of the power than is normal." The magazine reported aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were the source of the news about Shelby's blanket hold.
The Mobile Press-Register picked up the story early this afternoon. The paper confirmed Reid's account of the hold, and reported that a Shelby spokesperson "did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking confirmation of the senator's action or his reason for doing so."
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."
The funny part? Well, go and read the Armageddon style comments by the readers over at TPM. These folks are outraged, OUTRAGED I SAY!, by the holding up of nominations of people they have never heard of, for positions they never knew existed. They are further demanding that Obama spend loads of political capital to show up Shelby, who will of course just counter that the Obama administration has been attempting to punish states like Alabama for being Republican led by withholding funds that could be used to employ people in the state which has the 9th worst unemployment rate in the country. That the tanker deal would benefit Obama friendly Washington state (and big political donors within said state) would just put the cherry on this craptastic sundae.
Yeah, that will be political gold.
Mr. Nim, meet Mr. Rod.