Senator Richard Shelby really likes air tankers. Shelby reportedly is blocking 70 nominations in a dispute over the long-controversial Air Force tanker deal. This contract has been criticized for years as wasteful and unnecessary. Shelby is supporting the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company against Boeing in the dispute because the Europeans are promising to build the tankers in his state.
Putting aside the merits of the tanker deal, Shelby’s “hold” on all nominees renews the controversy over the ability of senators to hold up nominees unilaterally. I have long been a critic of this tradition called “blue slipping” and holds. For a recent article, click here. This tradition is notorious for allowing senators to engage in hold ups of the Senate and the White House — demanding favors for friends or simply opposing nominees for personal reasons. There is little public benefit from blue slipping. If a senator has a problem with a nominee, he or she should state the objection in public and oppose confirmation. Blue slipping was traditional confined to judicial nominees from a senator’s state. He or she would literally send a blue slip with a written objection. The Shelby controversy involves a broader use of a “hold” by a senator.
For a prior column criticizing blue slipping, click here.
For the full story, click here.