GOP Sen. Shelby Blocks 70 Obama Nominations
Extraordinary 'blanket hold' over earmarks for Alabama
By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2010 7:13 AM CST
Sen. Christopher Dodd, left, and Sen. Sen. Richard Shelby during a Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs executive session Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(Newser) – Richard Shelby, the GOP senator from Alabama, is holding all of President Obama's pending nominations—at least 70—hostage until a couple of programs benefiting his home state get favorable treatment, Talking Points Memo reports. Shelby has put an extraordinary blanket hold on all the nominations the White House has sent to the Senate, meaning none can move unless Senate Dems can muster the 60 votes for cloture.

What Shelby wants is for the Air Force to change the specs on the contract for its air-to-air refueling tankers, so that a Mobile, Alabama, firm can compete, and White House approval for a $45 billion explosive device testing lab for the FBI, earmarked in 2008, which the Obama administration doesn't want to build.