Thursday afternoon Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took to the Senate floor to block the confirmation process of all Obama administration appointees, acting on behalf of Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama. Sen. Shelby's move puts a "blanket hold" on at least 70 nominations President Obama has sent to the Senate, according to multiple reports, in a strategy to land over $35 billion in federal dollars to have an Air Force refueling tanker and an FBI explosives testing center built in his home state.
Now this is where things get a little interesting...Shelby's goal to have the refueling tanker built in Alabama would force the administration to give the lucrative contract to European aerospace giant EADS, as opposed to to Boeing, a U.S. owned company. Reportedly, Sen. Shelby has received contributions from both EADS and EADS' domestic partner on the aerial tanker bid, Northrop Grumman. According to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity, Northrop Grumman has contributed more than $ 100,000 from its political action committee to Shelby during his four terms in the U.S. Senate. Shelby has also received contributions directly from top officials of both EADS and Northrop Grumman, not to mention that his former legislative director now lobbies for EADS.
The response for the White House has been critical of the move, "It boggles the mind to hold up qualified nominees for positions that are needed to perform functions in a government because you didn't get two earmarks," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who said it points to Washington´s problems. And that it does, as this is not just Sen. Shelby acting alone. Without the support of Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and presumably the rest of the GOP caucus, Shelby's attempt to hijack and abuse the democratic process would have failed.