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Friday, February 05, 2010

Let's not hear any more about fiscally responsible Republicans, shall we?
Posted by Jill | 6:48 AM
Republicans always like to talk about how they are the party of fiscal responsibility, and how opposed they are to earmarks. Perhaps, then, one of them would like to explain how holding up the President's nominations until you get the earmarks you want is fiscal conservatism:
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 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."

Shelby has been tight-lipped about the holds, offering only an unnamed spokesperson to reporters today to explain them. Aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid broke the news of the blanket hold this afternoon. 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. 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."

Though a Shelby spokesperson would not confirm that these programs were behind the blanket hold, the Senator expressed his frustration about the progress on both through a spokesperson to both CongressDaily and the Federal Times.

A San Diego State University professor and Congressional expert told the Mobile paper "he knew of no previous use of a blanket hold" in recent history.

I guess a corollary of the IOKIYAR rule is "It's not an earmark, it's a vital program, if you're a Republican."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Let us be calm. We can amend the Constituition.

Proposed new amendment, popular title "You're all half witted and we are sick of having to deal with you."

This amendment would throw any state out of the union with their share of the national debt and declare anyone who stayed after seperation "unwanted aliens."
Voting would be based on every person in the other states voting 51 percent for kicking them out.

I nominate Texas, South Carolina and Alabama. Oklahoma after we seperate the 5 tribes area from the state.


Anonymous ShortWoman said...
Funny how the Democrats didn't use this "hold" power on any of Dubya's controversial appointments.

Blogger Bob said...
What does it tell us about Sen. Reid? How long have the nominees been on hold?

Blogger merlallen said...
The wingers might be mad if it were called "pork barrel spending" instead of earmark.
But I doubt it.

Blogger casey said...
Hello Jill,

When the republicans get into office the few democrats with a spine should engage in total disruption so nothing gets done in congress. This is in reprisal to the dipstick(s) to get the message. I do not think that their cognitive abilities will be able to decipher this.