Shelby releases most of his blanket hold, but continues to block three military nominees.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)Last week, media reports revealed that Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) had placed a blanket hold on all of President Obama’s pending executive nominations, holding up more than 70 nominees, including those for top national security positions. Shelby’s obstructionist move was an effort to gain leverage for two defense projects in his home state. Following aggressive pushback from the White House and negative media attention, Shelby announced yesterday that he was relenting on his blanket hold, which he acknowledged as an effort “to get the White House’s attention on two issues.” But as Marcy Wheeler notes, he is still holding three key military positions hostage:

Terry Yonkers, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Logistics (Nominated August 4, 2009)
Frank Kendall, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (PDUSD) for Acquisition and Technology (Nominated August 6, 2009)
Erin Conaton, Under Secretary of the Air Force (Nominated November 10, 2009)

In his statement, Shelby said he “decided to release his holds on all but a few nominees directly related to the Air Force tanker acquisition” because he wants “to ensure an open, fair and transparent competition that delivers the best equipment to our men and women in uniform.” But Wheeler points out that holding nominations hostage in order to benefit companies in his home state does not appear “open, fair and transparent.”