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Matthew Yglesias on the “Shelby-hold” of Erin Conaton and two other nominees

A previous post expressed dismay at Senator Richard Shelby’s continuation of the “hold” on Deputy Secretary of the Air Force nominee, Erin Conaton. Matthew Yglesias notes a similar concern about Conaton and the three other “holdees”:

The Shelby Shakedown continues. Richard Shelby is no longer holding all executive branch appointees hostage to his demand for extra pork for Alabama, instead it’s just these guys:

But Senator Shelby still has holds on on these individuals: Terry Yonkers, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force; Frank Kendall, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; and Erin Conaton, Under Secretary of the Air Force.

This is completely unacceptable. If Shelby doesn’t think Terry Yonkers should be Assistant Secretary of the Air Force then he should vote “no” when the matter is brought to the Senate floor. If Shelby doesn’t think Frank Kendall should be Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics he should vote “no” when the matter is brought to the Senate floor. If Shelby doesn’t think Erin Conaton should be Under Secretary of the Air Force then he should vote “no” when the matter is brought to the Senate floor. That’s how a legislature runs. It has the authority to confirm or not confirm certain people. So when the president nominates people, the members vote. If they don’t want to vote “yes,” they don’t have to. But delaying a vote indefinitely? In order to shake some federal bucks loose? It’s outrageous.

Yglesias is right. It is outrageous– and undemocratic in the extreme.

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Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.