CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkissonthat Shelby was using "holds" to get his way on major spending issues in his home state. Using the tactic means that instead of the usual 51 votes to be confirmed, nominees have to get 60 votes. Getting to 60 isn't always easy with Democrats in control of just 57 seats. There are 41 Republicans and two Independents.
Holds aren't unusual. But Shelby has flexed his Senatorial muscle to issue a rarer "blanket hold" of all nominees on the calendar. That's more than 80, including high ranking military, intelligence and national security officials, like Clifford Stanley to oversee Defense Personnel and Readiness.
Sen. Shelby wouldn't agree to an interview but his office says the holds are "due to unaddressed national security concerns."
Specifically, he wants changes in the process to contract for Air Force re-fuelers - the contract is worth up to $40 billion.
What he really wants is to get that contract to Northrup Grumman, which would build the re-fuelers in Shelby's home state of Alabama. Northrup has contributed more than $100,000 to Shelby over the years.
Shelby also wants the administration to release $45 million from an earmark he got in 2008 for a "Terrorist Explosives Devices Analytical Center" at an Army base in Shelby's home state.
On Monday, Shelby's office said he was releasing holds "on all but a few nominees directly related to the Air Force tanker acquisition."