Shelby's holds stirred up Democrats because they effectively limited confirmation votes to a mere handful per month, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Senate Democratic aides confirmed that Shelby released most of the holds, but the Alabama senator said he would continue to block other nominees. Senators, usually in the minority party, are known to use the tactic as a form of protest.
"The purpose of placing numerous holds was to get the White House's attention on two issues that are critical to our national security -- the Air Force's aerial refueling tanker acquisition and the FBI's Terrorist Device Analytical Center," Shelby's office said in a statement. "With that accomplished, Senator Shelby has decided to release his holds on all but a few nominees directly related to the Air Force tanker acquisition."
The White House said it didn't agree to any of Shelby's demands and that the senator released the holds on his own.
Shelby still has holds on Terry Yonkers, assistant secretary of the Air Force; Frank Kendall, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics; and Erin Conaton, undersecretary of the Air Force, an aide told Politico.
Last week, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Shelby's blanket hold exemplified "what's wrong" with Washington.