updated 2:46 p.m. ET, Fri., Feb. 5, 2010
WASHINGTON - Democrats are criticizing a Republican senator from Alabama for blocking every one of the president's nominees over spending disputes involving his state.
Sen. Richard Shelby has placed a "hold" on every nomination, which delays the Senate from acting on them. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Friday called the tactic a "poster child" for what's broken in Washington and said the senator is preventing qualified nominees from serving in important government positions.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Shelby's move is holding up about 70 appointments, including a critical top Defense Department position overseeing deployments to the war in Afghanistan.
Senators frequently block individual appointments, but Shelby's blanket hold is unusual. His spokesman issued a statement about the holds Friday, citing concerns about a contract for an Air Force refueling tanker that could be built in Alabama and a new FBI explosives center that Shelby wants built there. Shelby argues the projects are critical national security priorities.