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Sen. Jeff Sessions puts hold on Erin Conaton’s confirmation to be Under Secretary of the Air Force

Erin Conaton at her confirmation hearing

Erin Conaton at her confirmation hearing

A number of previous posts have praised the nomination of Erin Conaton to be Under Secretary of the Air Force. And now, in keeping with sad senatorial practice, Government Executive reports:

Frustrated with the Air Force’s handling of the latest competition for a lucrative contract to build a fleet of aerial refueling tankers, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is blocking the confirmation of Erin Conaton to be the service’s No. 2 civilian leader.

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted unanimously to support the confirmation of Conaton, who serves as the staff director of the House Armed Services Committee, this month. But a spokesman for Sessions confirmed Monday that the senator, who sits on the Armed Services panel, has placed a hold on her nomination amid concerns about the tanker competition.

In addition to Conaton, Sessions is also blocking the nomination of Frank Kendall, whom President Obama tapped to be deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and technology, the spokesman said.

Seriously? This is same thing we saw with Arturo Valenzuela, who finally was confirmed as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. What kind of democratic system allows one senator to block the confirmation of a nominee who received a unanimous vote of the Senate Armed Services Committee? Let’s hope this ends soon and Conaton can assume her new position.

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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.