By Mark Memmott
Everybody in Washington likes to talk about bi-partisanship and putting an end to "business as usual", from the president on down to a freshly sworn-in elected senator like Republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts.
Then news like this comes along:
Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby has placed a unilateral hold on all of President Barack Obama's executive branch nominees in an apparent protest over home state concerns. (Politico)
At the liberal Talking Points Memo Editors Blog, Josh Marshall writes that "the only mystery about this one is which is more outrageous -- Shelby's hold or the fact that the rest of the senators of both parties allow it."
The senator's move may not play well among his supporters, though. At the conservative Hot Air, Ed Morrissey says this:
The hold process is perfectly legitimate in stopping a bad candidate from immediate confirmation. It isn't at all legitimate to hold up every single appointment to demand more pork for one's state, or favorable bid decisions, or any other gimme impulse. Regardless of who is President, the elected executive is entitled to appoint people who want to implement his policies, and the Senate should usually give the nominees the courtesy of a floor vote, especially on political posts within the executive branch, with the noted exceptions for questions of incompetence, inexperience, or corruption.
The White House isn't pleased. Spokesman Dan Pfeiffer blogged today that: "This is just the latest example of this kind opposition for opposition's sake that the president talked about earlier this week. This strategy of obstruction is preventing qualified people from doing their jobs on behalf of the American people and it's preventing real work from getting done in Washington."
What is Shelby's justification? Politico reports that the senator:
Is frustrated over the Pentagon's bidding process for air-to-air refueling tankers, which could lead to the creation of jobs in Mobile, Ala. And spokesman Jonathan Graffeo said in a statement the senator is also "deeply concerned" that the administration "will not release" funds already appropriated for a Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center to be built in Alabama.