Secret Hold Senator: Byrd? | Main | Participatory Democracy In Action
August 29, 2006

Grassley's 2002 Bid To Eliminate Secret Holds

Interesting stuff here:

Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, today I am submitting, along with my colleague Senator Wyden, a Senate resolution to amend the Senate rules to eliminate secret holds.

I know Senators are familiar with the practice of placing holds on matters to come before the Senate.

Holds derive from the rules and traditions of the Senate.

In order for the Senate to run smoothly, objections to unanimous consent agreements must be avoided.

Essentially, a hold is a notice by a Senator to his or her party leader of an intention to object to bringing a bill or nomination to the floor for consideration.

This effectively prevents the Senate leadership from attempting to bring the matter before the Senate.

A Senator might place a hold on a piece of legislation or a nomination because of legitimate concerns about that legislation or nomination.

However, there is no legitimate reason why a Senator placing a hold on a matter should remain anonymous.

I believe in the principle of open government.

Lack of transparency in the public policy process leads to cynicism and distrust of public officials.

I would maintain that the use of secret holds damages public confidence in the institution of the Senate.

It has been my policy, and the policy of Senator Wyden as well, to disclose in the Congressional Record any hold that I place on any matter in the Senate along with my reasons for doing so.

...

As a matter of principle, the American people need to be made aware of any action that prevents a matter from being considered by their elected Senators.

Senator Wyden and I have worked twice to get a similar ban on secret holds included in legislation passed by the Senate.

But, both times it was removed in conference.

...

The time has come to end this distasteful practice for good.

I'd like to know the names of the conferrees on that, and compare them against the likely suspects.

Senator Wyden spoke out more recently against the practice, on March 28 of this year:

Nowhere in the Senate rules does it say anything about secret holds. Nowhere is it written down that a Senator can exercise this enormous power and do it without any accountability at all.


Thanks to Slublog for all that good stuff.

He thinks the fact that this isn't even in the rules -- but is a, ahem, "time-tested unwritten privilege of a Senator," screams "Robert Byrd."


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posted by Ace at 11:53 AM

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