Shelby’s shutdown

SHELBY’S SHUTDOWN…. Just when it seemed Republican obstructionism couldn’t be any more offensive, at least one far-right senator finds a way to kick things up a notch.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put an extraordinary “blanket hold” on at least 70 nominations President Obama has sent to the Senate, according to multiple reports this evening. The hold means no nominations can move forward unless Senate Democrats can secure a 60-member cloture vote to break it, or until Shelby lifts the hold.

“While holds are frequent,” CongressDaily‘s Dan Friedman and Megan Scully report (sub. req.), “Senate aides said a blanket hold represents a far more aggressive use of the power than is normal.”

The Mobile Press-Register picked up the story early this afternoon. The paper confirmed Reid’s account of the hold…. Reid aides told CongressDaily the hold extends to “all executive nominations on the Senate calendar.”

And why, pray tell, has Shelby decided to hold several dozen administration nominees hostage? It’s not about qualifications, ideology, or party — it’s about pork. The conservative Alabama senator wants some defense earmarks for his state, and until he’s satisfied, Shelby apparently won’t allow the Senate to vote on just about anyone, including nominees ready to fill positions related to national security.

The abuse, the arrogance, the corruption … it’s just breathtaking. Shelby is proving himself to be little more than a petty, greedy thug, undermining our system of government until he’s been paid off to his satisfaction.

Josh Marshall added, “This is more like just a stick up. Gimme my money and I’ll give you your Senate back! Worse than a squeegee man and not much better than a bank robber, Shelby is shutting down the president’s ability to appoint anyone to anything until he gets his way.”

What’s more, it’s additional evidence, as if more was needed, that congressional Republicans are simply out of control. At a time when the nation needs strong institutions, GOP lawmakers have not only gone mad, they’re also tearing down governmental touchstones like the United States Senate.

It’s inexcusable and unsustainable. Something’s gotta give.