As you may have heard, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) has placed a hold on all Obama Administration nominees, effectively holding every Obama appointment hostage to the Senate's filibuster rule.
So what's Shelby's ransom? Basically, he wants the Pentagon contract for aerial refueling tankers to be awarded to Airbus, the European aerospace firm, instead of Boeing, the domestic aerospace giant. Why does Shelby want to award a key military contract to a foreign company? Because portions of the Airbus-built tankers would be assembled in Alabama.
Marcy Wheeler explains:
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.
Essentially, then, Shelby’s threat is primarily about gaming this bidding process to make sure Airbus–and not Boeing–wins the contract (there’s a smaller program he’s complaining about, too, but this is the truly huge potential bounty for his state).
As Wheeler argues, the bottom-line is that Richard Shelby -- a top Senate Republican -- is preparing to shut down the United States Senate to award a key military contract to a foreign company. That is a staggering fact, and Democrats should pummel him and his GOP enablers for heading down this path.
Join the discussion in calchala's recommended diary, UPDATE: GIBBS BLASTS SHELBY OVER HOLD.