Posts Tagged ‘Northrup Grumman’
Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Richard Shelby (Getty Images)

Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama has withdrawn most of his “holds” on presidential nominees, including President Obama’s picks for key Justice Department posts.

Shelby’s office announced late last night that the senator would drop his “blanket hold” on more than 70 nominees pending on the Senate Executive Calendar. A hold is when a senator — often anonymously — lets it be known he would oppose a unanimous consent request to bring a particular bill or nomination to the Senate floor. Without unanimous consent, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would have to make a debatable motion to bring the matter to the floor, thus raising the possibility of a filibuster. Senate leaders usually do not even begin that process, recognizing it would be very time-consuming.

The DOJ nominees who were caught up in Shelby’s hold were:

  • Mary L. Smith, to be Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division. She was reported out of committee last Thursday.
  • Christopher Schroeder, to be Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy. He also was reported out of committee on Thursday.
  • John Laub, to be director of the National Institute of Justice. He was reported out of committee on Dec. 3.
  • Susan Carbon, to be director of the Office on Violence Against Women. She was reported out of committee on Dec. 3.
  • Richard Hartunian, to be U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York. He was reported out of committee on Jan. 28.
  • Andre Birotte Jr., to be U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. He was reported out of committee on Jan. 28.
  • Ron Machen, to be U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. He was reported out of committee on Jan. 28.

The Alabama senator had held up the more than 70 nominees since Thursday over concerns he has about a tanker contract that could bring 1,500 jobs to Mobile, Ala., and over funds he is requesting to build an FBI counterterrorism center in his state. Northrop Grumman is vying to win the tanker contract, and if successful, would assemble the planes in Mobile.

A spokesman for Shelby said the Republican had “accomplished” his goal by employing the “blanket hold,” according to Politico.

“The purpose of placing numerous holds was to get the White House’s attention on two issues that are critical to our national security – the Air Force’s aerial refueling tanker acquisition and the FBI’s Terrorist Device Analytical Center (TEDAC). With that accomplished, Sen. Shelby has decided to release his holds on all but a few nominees directly related to the Air Force tanker acquisition until the new Request for Proposal is issued,”  Shelby aide Jonathan Graffeo said in a statement, according to Politico.

Shelby still has holds on the nominations of Terry Yonkers, assistant secretary of the Air Force; Frank Kendall, principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics; and Erin Conaton, undersecretary of the Air Force, Politico said.

Democrats and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs had sharply criticized Shelby for the rare move to hold up all of Obama’s nominees who were waiting for votes in the full Senate. Last week, Gibbs said there likely wouldn’t be a “greater example of silliness throughout the entire year of 2010.”

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Richard Shelby (Getty Images)

Seven Justice Department nominees that have been reported out the Senate Judiciary Committee might not receive votes on the Senate floor anytime soon thanks to Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama.

Last night Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that Shelby had placed a “blanket hold” on all nominations pending on the Senate Executive Calendar, including two Assistant Attorneys General nominees, two would-be directors of DOJ offices and three prospective U.S. Attorneys.

Those nominees are:

  • Mary L. Smith, Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division. She was reported out of committee yesterday.
  • Christopher Schroeder, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy. He also was reported out of committee yesterday.
  • John Laub, Director of the National Institute of Justice. He was reported out of committee on Dec. 3.
  • Susan Carbon, Director of the Office on Violence Against Women. She was reported out of committee on Dec. 3.
  • Richard Hartunian, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York. He was reported out of committee on Jan. 28.
  • Andre Birotte Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. He was reported out of committee on Jan. 28.
  • Ron Machen, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. He was reported out of committee on Jan. 28.

But the Republican’s beef isn’t with the nominees.

The Alabama senator is holding up the nominees over concerns he has about a tanker contract that could bring 1,500 jobs to Mobile, Ala., and over funds he is requesting to build an FBI counterterrorism center in his state, according to The Caucus blog on The New York Times Web site. Northrop Grumman is vying to win the tanker contract, and if successful, would assemble the plans in Mobile.

“Senator Shelby has placed holds on several pending nominees due to unaddressed national security concerns,” Shelby spokesperson Jonathan Graffeo said in a statement, according to The Caucus. “Among his concerns is that nearly 10 years after the U.S. Air Force announced plans to replace the aging tanker fleet, we still do not have a transparent and fair acquisition process to move forward. The Department of Defense must recognize that the draft Request for Proposal needs to be significantly and substantively changed.”

He added: “Senator Shelby is also deeply concerned that the administration will not release the funds already appropriated to the FBI to build the Terrorist Explosives Devices Analytical Center. This decision impedes the U.S. military, the intelligence community, and federal law enforcement personnel in their missions to exploit and analyze intelligence information critical to fighting terrorism and ensuring American security worldwide.”

Shelby would be willing to speak with the Obama administration about his concerns at any time, according to the spokesman.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs condemned Shelby for the rare decision to hold up all of Obama’s nominees who are waiting for votes in the full Senate.

“I guess if you needed one example of what’s wrong with this town, it might be that one senator can hold up 70 qualified individuals to make government work better because he didn’t get his earmarks,” Gibbs told reporters today, according to the blog. “If that’s not the poster child for how this town needs to change the way it works, I fear there won’t be a greater example of silliness throughout the entire year of 2010.”

The Democratic National Committee also posted a video on YouTube yesterday that alleges Shelby’s holds are threatening national security.

The senator’s holds don’t make it impossible for the Senate to consider nominees. Under normal circumstances, Senate leaders honor an individual senator’s hold. But if Majority Leader Reid wants to bring a nomination to the Senate floor, he could file a cloture petition. Cutting off debate on a nomination is a time-consuming process for the Senate and would be difficult for the Democratic majority with the addition of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) to the Senate. Brown became the 41st member of the Republican Senate caucus yesterday, ending the Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority.

Reid said on the Senate floor yesterday that the president might have to start considering recess appointments, which wouldn’t require confirmation.

“The president will look at all his options,” Gibbs said, according to The Caucus.