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.
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."
I'm convinced this wouldn't be happening if the President was a white Republican. Shelby is a political atavism, a throwback to the days of Sen. Foghorn Leghorn, and another good reason to let Alabama secede, if they really want to. Let's see how many aircraft manufacturing plants and explosive device testing labs they can build when it's their own money building it!
And, frankly, I've got an idea that's even better than letting Alabama go. I know two very persuasive guys back in Jersey....