Here’s the beginning of Shelby’s statement, with the rest at TPM:
Sen. Shelby has placed holds on several pending nominees due to unaddressed national security concerns. …
Everything else is just defensive posturing to back up the unprecedented Republican stall by Shelby’s blanket hold, pretty much a Senate first. The move freezes everything in place on Obama’s nominations, calling attention to Shelby’s actions which he’s trying to hide behind “national security.”
It’s the pick up from the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab skirmish, revolving around Miranda rights being read to him, which seems to be the foundation of a broader election 2010 GOP talking point that started with Scott Brown’s stunning upset in Massachusetts. Sen. Collins was made a fool when she tried to fly the GOP talking points, with the Obama White House ready to aim and fire, with a direct hit:
On Wednesday, Gibbs issued a five-point memo rebutting a series of Republican criticisms. He wrote that senior members of the intelligence community knew that Abdulmutallab was going to be indicted in civilian court and approved of the decision. He also noted that Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen convicted in 2007 of supporting terrorism, was granted the right to counsel even when he was held as an “enemy combatant” during the Bush administration. “Abdulmutallab has not been offered anything,” Gibbs wrote. – Criticism of Obama on national security likely to remain big issue
Anyway, procedural guru David Waldman explains “holds” in detail.
Evidently, Sen. Shelby is betting that no one will call him on his “national security” veil. I wouldn’t bet on it, as it was Reid’s people who dropped the dime in the first place. But Shelby’s going for it, via his spokesperson:
Shelby’s move comes as Northrop Grumman Corp. is threatening to pull out of the tanker contest on the grounds that the draft bid package is skewed in favor of rival Boeing Co. Should Northrop win the high-stakes competition, Mobile could gain up to 1,500 jobs.
The Defense Department “must recognize” that the package “needs to be significantly and substantively changed,” Graffeo said in the statement. He also charged the administration with holding back money to build an FBI center to analyze terrorist explosive devices.
“If this administration were as worried about hunting down terrorists as it is about the confirmation of low-level political nominations, America would be a safer place,” Graffeo said. …
The part in bold is the framing that tells what’s really going on.
It takes 60 votes to break the hold, otherwise Obama’s federal nominees get frozen out.
Seems fitting as the “snowpocalypse” hits DC, with the government shutting down completely this afternoon. As I tweeted earlier, the meteorologists around the Beltway are awesome. They said it would snow starting at around 10 a.m. this morning and as if hitting an on switch, at around that time it began to snow and it doesn’t look like there’s any letting up.
Just wish they could predict when Shelby’s hardball will turn back on him, as Republicans stopping Democrats from doing any of the people’s business has now hit a tipping point. The Alabama senator betting that tweaking Obama on national security is a good bet no matter what.
With the back drop of the Tea Party convention, as well as the elections that turned Democrats out of Massachusetts and other states, I wonder if people are going to be upset that Republicans have stopped Dems from doing anything. People aren’t very happy with the way Pres. Obama and the Democratic Congress are handling things, so Shelby’s move may actually be praised in some quarters, especially since he’s cloaking it behind national security. Because up is down right now, with the political peanut gallery very content to stop Democrats in their tracks.
How the Democratic leadership handles this and how fast is key.
Obama shouldn’t take any crap from Republicans on national security. They’re all talk and torture, pork and preen. Besides, by this time in Bush’s presidency we’d already been hit, and that came after warnings were ignored. Someone needs to make Shelby eat this.