Backing Down

Shelby Releases Most 'Holds' on Nominees

Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama has released his controversial blanket hold on more than 70 presidential nominations. Shelby's maneuver, targeted at all appointments awaiting confirmation on the Senate floor, irked Democrats since it effectively limited confirmation votes to a handful per month. It also represented a low point in a partisan standoff in the Senate that has forced Democrats to find 60 votes to avoid a filibuster on almost every piece of legislation. "The purpose of placing numerous holds was to get the White House's attention on two issues that are critical to our national security—the Air Force's aerial refueling tanker acquisition and the FBI's Terrorist Device Analytical Center," Shelby's office said in a lengthy written statement. "With that accomplished, Senator Shelby has decided to release his holds on all but a few nominees directly related to the Air Force tanker acquisition until the new Request for Proposal is issued." The White House said that it had agreed to none of Shelby's demands and that the senator released the holds on his own accord.