Ala. senators lift blocks on Pentagon nominee

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Two Alabama Republican senators have lifted their holds on President Barack Obama's pick to lead Pentagon acquisitions after meeting with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Holds by Sen. Richard Shelby and Sen. Jeff Sessions were helping to delay the confirmation of Ashton Carter as a Defense Department undersecretary. The senators and other Alabama lawmakers worried Carter would change the criteria in a heated competition for a $35 billion refueling tanker contract.

Shelby said he was reassured by Thursday's meeting with Gates and the Secretary of Defense echoed his desire for a "fair, open, and transparent tanker acquisition process."

Northrop Grumman Corp., which would assemble the plane in Mobile, Ala., is offering a larger, more expensive plane than its competitor, Boeing Co.

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