Earlier this month, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) quietly and selfishly put a blanket hold on dozens and dozens of President Obama’s pending nominees in order to secure pork for his state. Some of the nominees who were caught in Shelby’s hold included the candidates for “the top Intelligence officers at the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security as well as the number three civilian at the Pentagon.”
In a new interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, Shelby is unapologetic about placing the holds, saying that he wanted to get the “attention” of the administration and was, ironically, concerned about the “lack of transparency and openness and fairness” in the tanker contract affecting Alabama. “I don’t think I abused the rules,” said Shelby defiantly.
Shelby has released most of the holds, but they remain in effect on three Air Force positions. Shelby dismissed the Pentagon’s statement that these holds are inhibiting the agency’s work, and admitted that he has no idea whether they are qualified:
BASH: I spoke with Geoff Morrell over at the Pentagon and just asked him what the impact is of not having these three people in place — one of whom, as you know, is the number two at the Air Force. He said, “Without these people, we’re not firing on all cylinders.” And he also said, “It does adversely affect the organization.”
Are you worried about that? This is a time of war —
SHELBY: The Pentagon is a big place. I don’t think one or two will affect anything except on the margins.
BASH: Do you think that the nominees you have holds on are qualified?
SHELBY: Oh, I don’t have any idea. I looked at them closely and we’ll see. Sometimes that’s not the issue.