Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has ceded his “blanket hold” on a slate of White House nominees awaiting Senate confirmation, according to a statement released by his office today.
But Shelby, who sought to block confirmation for over 70 of the administration's picks in a attempt to sway the Air Force's next-generation aerial tanker program known as KC-X, now opposes only those nominees “directly related” to the program, it adds.
That list of nominees includes Terry Yonkers, the administration's pick for the post of assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics; Frank Kendall, for principal deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics; and Erin Conaton, for under secretary of the Air Force, according to a congressional source.
A Northrop Grumman-EADS development team vying for the lucrative Air Force tanker contract plans to headquarter its manufacturing facility in Mobile, AL, if awarded the KC-X deal. However, Shelby's office was adamant that the Alabama Republican's actions were not intended “to determine the outcome of the competition,” according to the statement.
Shelby “is seeking to ensure an open, fair and transparent competition that delivers the best equipment to our men and women in uniform . . . ((and)) is fully justified in his concern given the history and current status of this acquisition,” it states.