Shelby Claims to Relent; Still Holds Military Nominations Hostage for Airbus

The WaPo reports, mistakenly, that Richard Shelby has released his holds on Obama’s nominees.

But as Shelby’s own statement makes clear, he is still holding up some of the military nominations to benefit Airbus.

The purpose of placing numerous holds was to get the White House’s attention on two issues that are critical to our national security – the Air Force’s aerial refueling tanker acquisition and the FBI’s Terrorist Device Analytical Center (TEDAC). With that accomplished, Sen. Shelby has decided to release his holds on all but a few nominees directly related to the Air Force tanker acquisition until the new Request for Proposal is issued. The Air Force tanker acquisition is not an ‘earmark’ as has been reported; it is a competition to replace the Air Force’s aging aerial refueling tanker fleet. Sen. Shelby is not seeking to determine the outcome of the competition; he is seeking to ensure an open, fair and transparent competition that delivers the best equipment to our men and women in uniform. Sen. Shelby is fully justified in his concern given the history and current status of this acquisition. [my emphasis]

Now, how can he claim that he is ensuring an “open, fair and transparent competition” when he is holding key military nominations hostage until … what? Until he gets the RFP France’s Airbus wants? What if they don’t like the RFP? Will Airbus ask Shelby to keep those nominations hostage until they rewrite the RFP?

Call me crazy, but I don’t see how taking hostages contributes in any way to open, fair, and transparent competition.

Update: Here are the three people he still has holds on:

  • Terry Yonkers, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Logistics (Nominated August 4, 2009)
  • Frank Kendall, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (PDUSD) for Acquisition and Technology (Nominated August 6, 2009)
  • Erin Conaton, Under Secretary of the Air Force (Nominated November 10, 2009)
  1. allan says:

    Hasn’t Shelby heard that we have two wars on?

    (It’s OK if you are a pimp for cheese eating retreat monkeys.)

  2. cinnamonape says:

    Yeah who needs Air Force Bases and Installations, Logistics, Purchasing and New Technology?

    Oh wait, decisions on obtaining the new aerial refueling planes can’t be done without someone signing and basing them…so Shelby will hold up National Security and all equipment acquisitions until the widdle cwybaby gets his way!

    Remember, this issue was settled during the Bush Administration…so Shelby is crying over something raised very loudly in Congress over two years ago.

  3. PJEvans says:

    The Great Orange Satan has this, along with the news that Ben Nelson is holding up Becker’s nomination to the NLRB. (As it says there, with some snark, ‘you wouldn’t want anyone who’s actually pro-labor on the NLRB’.)

    And Nelson’s the idjit the Ds felt they had to support? Why?

  4. fitley says:

    Well everybody wanted transparency and this hillbilly couldn’t be any clearer. While we’re on the subject is there anything else Airbus would like our taxpayers to do for them? Just name it.

  5. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Now, how can he claim that he is ensuring an “open, fair and transparent competition” when he is holding key military nominations hostage until … what? Until he gets the RFP France’s Airbus wants? What if they don’t like the RFP? Will Airbus ask Shelby to keep those nominations hostage until they rewrite the RFP?

    Logging in from Boeinglandia to say, “probably he’ll want them to rewrite the RFP, including Alabama’s state motto embroidered on the interior carpeting. In French.”

    Personally, I hope the Pentagon rips Shelby a baker’s dozen of new arseholes.

    And I hope they hang his reputation out to dry, way out back behind the doghouse, and slightly downwind from the outhouse.

  6. powwow says:

    Off-topic research assistance for selise’s pending Seminal diary, FHI when she logs in again on Tuesday:

    selise, below are more, and some better, Riddick’s cites on amendments, for your perusal, to add to the two or three cites I posted in the closed thread. I went through the whole PDF this time, though fairly casually, and these are the cites that stood out as most applicable to the question of limiting the ability of filibustering Senators to amend [beyond, again, their ability to “fill the tree” with a handful of amendments, if they happen to gain the floor while a bill still has first or second-degree, etc., amendment slots available on the “tree”]:

    Page 77 of the Riddick’s Amendments PDF [Page 54 of 102]:

    “When an amendment is pending, it is not in order to consider another amendment unless it is to the pending amendment, or to language affected thereby.”

    Page 99 of same [PDF Page 76 of 102]:

    “There is no preference in consideration of individual amendments (floor amendments), it depending upon the matter of recognition; but such amendments not amendments to committee amendments, but to the text of a bill, are not in order until all committee amendments have been disposed of, except by unanimous consent.”

    Page 109 of same [PDF 86 of 102]:

    It takes unanimous consent to set aside a pending amendment and take up another, if the Senate has taken no action on a pending amendment, the author may withdraw it.”

    Page 112 of same [PDF 89 of 102]:

    “When an amendment is pending, it is not in order to consider another amendment unless it is to the pending amendment or to language affected thereby, and the Chair should take initiative to enforce that prohibition.”

    Also, same page:

    “While an amendment to a bill is pending, an amendment thereto which embraces a portion of the bill not affected by the pending amendment, or an amendment to a different portion of the bill, is not in order except by unanimous consent, but the pending amendment would be open to amendment in the second degree.”

    Page 113 of same [PDF 90 of 102]:

    “When an amendment to a bill is pending, an amendment which embraces a portion of the bill not affected by or addressed to the pending amendment is not in order except by unanimous consent.”

    Also, same page:

    “While an amendment is pending, another amendment which hits at another place in the bill is not in order.”

    Also, same page [one of the cleaner cites]:

    A pending amendment to a bill must be disposed of before it is in order to offer another amendment to the bill itself; an amendment to a pending amendment would be order.

    Page 114 of same [PDF 91 of 102]:

    “Two independent amendments may not be pending at the same time; nor can one amendment be amended by another to attach language to another part of a bill.”

    • selise says:

      OT to powwow, thank you! i did not read that section through, so your cites are especially helpful (no way i am ever going to live up to your excellent research).

      btw, bmaz left a comment that senate offices are closed again tues. will wait for epu-land (end of thread after most commenters have moved on) for q that sleep and coffee may make clear.

      • Mauimom says:

        bmaz left a comment that senate offices are closed again tues

        With the 12+” of snow that’s forecast starting at noon, you can expect Senate offices to be closed Wednesday and probably Thursday as well.

        When the snow gets over 8″, the above-ground portions of the Metro can’t run.

        Huge portions of the city still have unplowed streets. Even if the main streets are plowed, people have a hard time getting to them.

        • selise says:

          thank you for the news. i feel bad for everyone there, but i also feel a little like a kid getting a snow day from school who wants to sleep in.

          hope everyone has power and that the shelters are open and accessible so everyone can stay warm. i won’t soon forget the ice storm here last winter: snowed in, no power and water coming through the roof where tree branches had broken through.

        • powwow says:

          Yes, thanks for that information, Mauimom (and thanks also to bmaz for keeping us posted).

          The Senate ended up being in session a grand total of about five minutes yesterday, which consisted mostly of this statement by Harry Reid at 2 p.m.:

          Mr. REID. Mr. President, this has been a historic storm. I was in Nevada. I left Friday morning, early, and had a beautiful weekend there–highs in the low 60s. But getting back here was another story. It was very, very difficult, and though I am here, a lot of Senators simply have not been able to get here.

          Staff is also under great duress to get here. The subway–the Metro, as we call it–which is so important to people who live and work here, is basically only an underground transit vehicle now. Anything above the ground is not working. So if you live right in DC, you might be all right, but if you are either in Maryland or Virginia, you can’t get here if you have to depend on the subway.

          As a result of that, we have had to change things. Even those who get here have extreme difficulty in driving. The police and authorities are still recommending that people not go on the roads. They are dangerous and difficult, and some, especially if you get off the main drag, are impassable. As a result of that, Mr. President, we are going to have to change things around here. And as you know, all the reports are that there is a 90 percent chance we are going to have another big storm tomorrow.

          Having said that, Mr. President, as in executive session, I ask unanimous consent that the orders with respect to Calendar Nos. 468 and 688 be modified to provide that the orders be delayed to occur at 2 p.m., Tuesday, February 9, under the same conditions and limitations as provided under the original order of February 4, 2010.

          The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so ordered.

          So it sounds like there may be a fairly well-attended and staffed Senate session this afternoon into the evening – or maybe not, since that’s when the next storm is apparently hitting… But someone may yet make it in to the Senate Parliamentarian’s office, at least briefly, today. The Senate kept going pretty well during the snowstorm a week(end?) before Christmas, as I recall – but then most Senators were already in town before/during that storm.

            • powwow says:

              FYI, selise, I caught a snippet of C-SPAN just as Reid was getting ready to adjourn the Senate for the evening (about 7 p.m. ET) Tuesday. From what I gathered, the Senate will not be in session at all tomorrow, Wednesday, having decided to adjourn instead until 2:30 p.m. on Thursday (I didn’t hear what, if anything, will be on the agenda). Friday, per usual practice, presumably won’t amount to much in the Senate, either, snow-aftermath or no snow-aftermath. [Oddly enough, the last two Wednesdays the Senate didn’t come into session either, so that, first, the Republicans, and then the Democrats could hold policy “retreats” midweek.]

              All of next week the Senate will be in recess for the Presidents’ “Day” holiday (it didn’t sound like there is any proposed change to that schedule for the Senate, although there were rumblings that the House might change their recess plans).

              What any of that says or means about the future work schedule of the Senate Parliamentarian’s office, however, I couldn’t say, aside from the logical deduction that, as Mauimom indicated, with another heavy snowfall hitting D.C., federal government offices will likely be closed again on Wednesday, at least.

  7. ella says:

    This is the true face of the “Country First”, “National Security”, “We Support the Military” party. You go Senator Shelby you go! Show the country your true colors, support the military.

  8. scritch says:

    Why is DICK Shelby so unpatriotic? With his holds he:

    – is keeping our military at a less-than-ready position;

    – supports foreign corporations at the expense of U.S. citizens;

    – is trying to subvert our democracy by frivolously holding up votes;

    – fails to serve his constituents well by acting as a selfish child would.

    DICK Shelby is no patriot, and apparently hates America!

    • onitgoes says:

      And as Dick Cheney would say: SO?????????

      Money talks.

      As another post said earlier, most voters will read the headlines and move on. That’s what they count on.

      That Shelby is a rednecked grifter neo-con is no great surprise, but with spineless, gormless Dems for “opposition,” there you go.

  9. montanamaven says:

    I don’t fly Airbuses anymore. They rushed their passenger planes into production and they have issues with the automatic pilot or so I have been told by a pilot and mechanics. Does anybody know whether these new beasts will have the same bugs or whether what I just said is true at all?

    I say we should stick with Boeing.

    • powwow says:

      montanamaven, this is off-topic again, but I’ve been thinking about a comment I believe you made a time or two, about what Max Baucus was (repeatedly) telling Democratic Party contacts back in Montana about (I think) his “Gang of Six” process as it was progressing, or shortly after it ended. Do you have a specific memory, or concrete quote, of Baucus excusing the delays, or the Gang of Six itself, because he was basically doing what he was told by the White House (‘I’m just doing what Obama wants’ or something like that, is what I thought I recalled, but to what exactly would Baucus have been referring)? Any specificity you could provide on that would be very helpful and interesting. Thanks.

  10. alank says:

    Ah yes, another shady side of the MIC that involves Congressional pork opportunities. The replacement of the Cold War™ with the semi-literate War on Terror™ has been good for business for special interest groups who routinely and as matter of course win contract bids with said MIC.

  11. oldschool says:

    Odd how all the self-proclaimed fair-minded people at firedoglake didn’t happen to mention, even in passing, that it’s not just Airbus that’s seeking the tanker contract. It’s a joint venture with Northrup Grumman, a first rate American company with American engineers. Odd — unless perhaps you think thatthat wouldn’t have been as good a story. Not so different than the “bad guys”.

    • bmaz says:

      What’s even funnier is that some of the troll scolds, like the instant one, do not read the root post on the subject before they mouth off. If they did, they would have seen this:

      The key issue is that Shelby wants the Air Force to tweak an RFP for refueling tankers so that Airbus (partnered with Northrup Grumman) would win the bid again over Boeing. The contract had been awarded in 2008, but the GAO found that the Air Force had erred in calculating the award. After the Air Force wrote a new RFP in preparation to rebid the contract, Airbus calculated that it would not win the new bid, and started complaining. Now, Airbus is threatening to withdraw from the competition unless the specs in the RFP are revised.

  12. sbgypsy99 says:

    We need a motto, a saying, a blurb: something along the lines of “Freedom Fries”.


    “Freedom Flies: Shelby holds up National Security Appointees to benefit France’s Airbus!”

  13. laborite57 says:

    There is an organized labor angle to the tanker story. Boeing is unionized company, employing thousand of members of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, and of other, smaller unions.

    • bmaz says:

      Is there an angle as to just which is the better, safer, and more useful long term plane for the American military; or is this all about unions, jobs, earmarks, and political graft? Because the latter is all I have seen from either side of the bidding process.

      • laborite57 says:

        As you well know, the relative merits of the competing bids have been argued back and forth by dueling experts and observers. From what I have read, both are good companies with good bids.

        I personally feel that there is value to having the planes built in the US, and with a unionized work force. I have no particular love or admiration for the Boeing corporation, but I’d like to see the planes built here by union workers.

  14. catmartini says:

    Richard Shelby is nothing more or less than a terrorist. He is holding government business hostage until his demands are met. I think they should throw his ass in a jail cell for providing aid and comfort to the enemy – after all, if he holds up government business pertinent to the wars he’s FOR, then our war effort and our troops are put at risk. This man is a boil on the butt of humanity and should be sent from office forthwith.

  15. haoleboy says:

    The tanker story is one that I am familiar with and I tend to agree with what Sen. Shelby is doing. This is not about national security, its about an unfair competition. About ten years ago at the beginning of the Bush administration two Senators and good friends (Stevens & Inouye) the heads of the Senate defense appropriations committee went along with a plan by Boeing supporters in Congress and the WH to give Boeing a $20 billion earmark to lease 100 Boeing 767 aircraft tanker aircraft.

    It was a sweetheart deal for Boeing but not the taxpayers. Boeing charged list prices and worse yet, after eight years and $20 billion, got the airplanes back to resell (to the USAF) or anyone else they wanted to. How did this happen? Simple, the USAF let Boeing write the contract.

    In the end two people went to prison and Boeing paid a $600 million fine after it was found that Boeing conspired with high ranking people in the Pentagon to get this deal approved (the Members of Congress involved made sure they were not touched after having their names redacted from the investigative report). Even the DOD Inspector General was compromised. He resigned and went to work for — Blackwater.

    A few years ago after profuse promises of transparency the tanker contract came up again – this time for bid (not an earmark) and the Northrop Grumman-Airbus team won. This time Boeing (and the same supporters on Capitol Hill from the first corrupt go around) cried foul saying they were told the USAF did not want such a large plane. The GAO got involved and found in Boeings favor (not surprised as they are compromised like the rest of Washington DC). So now here we are with another go-around and the Northrop team is not trusting the Pentagon again. I cannot blame them.

    Sen. Shelby is trying to draw attention to something that needs a fair review but that is not likely because people are seeing this as a sellout to Airbus. The problem is that Boeing is just like ours banks, they have bought off many in Congress and are [too big to fail]. I am not a fan of Sen. Shelby but I am of fairness and this contract is as dirty as they come.

  16. Teddy Partridge says:

    Our Air Force needs the tankers and Boeing will build them in America; also, the profits will accrue to an American company. That’s good enough for me.

    Imprison Shelby as a terrorist, making demands of our War President.