Conaton Nomination on Hold

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has placed a hold on the nomination of Erin Conaton to be Air Force undersecretary over concerns with the KC-X tanker competition, the Senator’s communications director, Stephen Boyd, confirmed Tuesday. Boyd declined to elaborate on Sessions’ reasoning, but said the hold was put in place last week. It’s no secret (see below) that the Alabama lawmaker—in whose state Northrop Grumman’s industry team would assemble tanker aircraft if it wins the contest—has been unhappy with the language in the draft KC-X solicitation and the purported advantage that it would give a bid by rival Boeing. We reported last week that we thought a hold was in place, but couldn’t get confirmation from Sessions’ office then. In addition to Conaton, Sessions has placed the nomination of Frank Kendall on hold to be deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition and technology.