Sen. Shelby agrees to stop putting Ala. earmarks ahead of Senate confirmations

Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby has agreed to stop blocking Senate confirmations for 70 of President Obama’s appointees.

Shelby had put a blanket-hold on all appointees because of a dispute over two earmark projects he wanted to secure for his state.

“The purpose of placing numerous holds was to get the White House’s attention on two issues that are critical to national security: the Air Force’s aerial refueling tanker aquesition and the FBI’s Terrorist Device Analytical Center,” Shelby’s spokesperson Jonathan Graffeo said Monday.

“With that accomplished, Sen. Shelby has decided to release his holds on all but a few nominees directly related to the Air Force tanker acquisition.”

Shelby’s office said he would continue blocking three nominations — Terry Yonkers as assistant secretary of the Air Force; Frank Kendall, principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics; and Erin Conaton, undersecretary of the Air Force — until the Air Force finalizes the terms of the tanker deal.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday, “If you needed one example of what’s wrong with this town, it might be that one senator can hold up 70 qualified individuals to make government better because he didn’t get his earmarks.”

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