(CNN) – On Tuesday, CNN confirmed that Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, had lifted a majority of the holds that he had placed on President Barack Obama's nominations the Friday before. Obama referenced this issue during Tuesday's White House press briefing, stating, "One senator, as you all are aware, had put a hold on every single nominee that we had put forward, due to a dispute over a couple of earmarks in his state."
The president's statement was in direct contrast to a statement by Shelby's office, and the CNN Fact Check Desk wanted to get to the bottom of it.
Read the facts and get the bottom line after the jump:
Fact Check: Is the process of placing a nominee on hold a transparent process?
- There is no central place for a senator to register a "hold" placed on a nominee. The process is subject to reporting by each party's leadership.
- With regard to the president's comment about Shelby's holds, the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, insists that Shelby placed a hold on all pending nominees on the Executive Calendar. (The Executive Calendar lists the business available for consideration on the Senate floor.) Reid's office states that more than 80 nominations were delayed by Shelby at one point.
- Jonathan Graffeo, a spokesman for Shelby, said that the senator never placed a "blanket hold" on all the nominees. Instead, Graffeo maintains that the senator placed holds on 47 nominees, and that "he did not object to the nominations of uniform military personnel, federal judges, or Treasury nominees." The stated purpose of these holds was to bring attention to two projects: the Air Force's aerial refueling tanker acquisition and the FBI's Terrorist Devices Analytical Center. Shelby denies that these projects are "earmarks."
- On Monday, Shelby released all but three of his holds. Those still in place affect the nominations of Terry Yonkers to be assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations and environment; Frank Kendall III, to be deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition and technology; and Erin Conaton, to be under secretary of the Air Force.
Bottom Line: The process of placing a nominee on hold is not a transparent one. There is no central place to register a hold that a senator places on a nominee, so there is no way for CNN to crunch the numbers and tell if Senator Shelby's office is correct, or Senator Reid's office is. Somewhere between 47 and 80 nominees were placed on hold by Shelby.
–CNN's Congressional Correspondent Brianna Keilar and Lesa Jansen contributed to this report
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