Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) called out Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) on the floor Friday for holding up a military nomination, declaring the move “one of the purest forms of inappropriate obstructionism that I have seen around here.”
Levin sought unsuccessfully to clear the nomination of Gen. Michael Walsh to be promoted to a major general. Levin noted that the Armed Services panel cleared Walsh unanimously and that he has the backing of ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.).
“There is no doubt about this general’s qualifications and his character,” Levin said of Walsh. “No one has raised the slightest issue about whether or not he should be approved based on his own merits.”
Vitter is protesting the nomination because the Army Corps of Engineers, which Walsh currently oversees, has not approved coastal projects related to hurricane recovery. Vitter said in a statement, “I decided that the Corps leadership should be impacted by their own mistakes and delays just like Louisianans have for years.”
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), acting on behalf of Vitter, objected to approving Walsh’s promotion from a one-star to a two-star rank.
Levin charged that the corps couldn’t approve the projects because funds have not been appropriated. Further, Levin deemed it “inappropriate to stop a uniformed officer of the United States from having an advancement in his career” based on the issue of contracts.
In February, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) placed a blanket hold on pending nominations in an attempt to secure funds for a military project that would have been a major economic boon for his state. Shelby eventually lifted his holds.
The slow pace of approving nominations has been a reoccurring issue on the Senate floor since last year. In recent weeks, freshman and sophomore Democrats blasted Republicans on the floor for holding up Obama administration nominees.