In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Dem Senator Holds Up Science Nominees to Force Continuation of Cuba Embargo

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has placed a "hold" that blocks votes on confirming Harvard University physicist John Holdren, who is in line to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Oregon State University marine biologist Jane Lubchenco, Obama's nominee to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. According to sources who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the matter, Menendez is using the holds as leverage to get Senate leaders' attention for a matter related to Cuba rather than questioning the nominees' credentials.

That Menendez has resorted to holds on nominees isn't surprising. Anonymously delaying nominees is an unfortunate yet time-honored tactic in the Senate, where the 2007 ethics bill imposed a six-day limit on the "holding" power but did not eliminate it outright.

But the nominees Menendez has chosen to hold are pivotal presidential allies in the push to regulate carbon emissions -- and Menendez has been admirably outspoken about the need to act on climate change. Was holding up Holdren, a longtime critic of Bush-era science policy, the best way to start a reasoned dialogue on Cuba policy?

ed. note. This post was revised to include recent quotes from Menendez relating to the coming vote on the spending bill.