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Sen. Shelby continues his “hold” on the nomination of Erin Conaton to be Under Secretary of the Air Force

Erin Conaton at her nomination hearing in November 2009

Erin Conaton at her nomination hearing in November 2009

Several previous blog posts have praised the nomination of my friend Erin Conaton to be Under Secretary of the Air Force and criticized the hold that had been placed on her nomination. Recently a “blanket hold” was placed on President Obama’s nominations by Senator Richard Shelby. While he has just lifted that broad hold, Reuters is reporting that it continues for Conaton:

Shelby’s office said he would maintain holds on three nominations — Terry Yonkers as assistant secretary of the Air Force; Frank Kendall, principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics; and Erin Conaton, undersecretary of the Air Force — until the final terms were issued.

This is ridiculous. The nomination sailed through the Committee and should have been immediately approved by the full Senate. There has to be a way out of this practice of senatorial “holds.” What kind of democracy allows one member of a legislative body the right to unilaterally block a vote on a nominee?

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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.