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GOP senator blocks action on nominee for Air Force secretary over fate of aircraft

A Republican lawmaker is blocking Senate action on President Barack Obama's nominee for Air Force secretary until she gets answers about the fate of the A-10 attack aircraft.

A congressional aide said Thursday that Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire has placed a hold on the nomination of Deborah Lee James. Ayotte was responding to recent signals from senior Air Force officials that the service could cut its A-10 fleet due to budget cuts.

The aide said Ayotte wants to ensure that the Air Force doesn't prematurely end the aircraft, pointing out that it helped save 60 lives in Afghanistan this past summer.

The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because the individual was not authorized to discuss publicly the senator's actions.