Senate Rules Fight

As expected, the Senate this week refused to make any significant changes in the rules on the filibuster, but Senators did agree to clamp down on what are known as “secret holds.” The move caps years of effort by Senators in both parties to crack down on the practice of “anonymous” holds, where a Senator could delay action on a bill, but not have his or her identity revealed.

The change approved on Thursday would require that names be printed in the Congressional Record, to better identify who is holding up what bill.

Since I have no electricity at home, instead of recounting all of this for you, what follows ia part of a statement issued by the sponsors, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), Sen.Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-MO).

“As my long-time partner in this effort, Senator Grassley, can attest our campaign to end secret holds has almost become the longest running battle since the Trojan War, but today we’ve won an important victory for open government.” Wyden said. “The transparency and accountability in this resolution will ensure that the public’s business will be done in public; that bills and nominations are not swept under the rug never again to see the light of day; and that the special interests cannot secretly block important legislation or nominations by finding one senator willing to covertly upend legislation they don’t like.”

“Passage of this resolution is a victory for accountability.  It will establish transparency with the significant power each senator holds to stop legislation and nominations.  That’s an important right of senators, but it ought to be exercised in the light of day.  Disclosure will be good for the legislative process and this reform will be meaningful in helping to make the public’s business public,” Grassley said.   

“Today’s vote was an important step forward in the fight to reform the way Washington does business. No longer will senators be able to hold up legislation anonymously. From now on, they’re going to have to own it,” McCaskill said. “We’ve been sent here to do the people’s business and the American people deserve greater transparency and accountability.” 

“Ending the use of secret holds will help assure the American people that the decisions we make are decisions of integrity, in which their interests are put first,” said Collins.  “Placing a hold on a nominee is a legitimate use of Senate rules and can be used to provide additional time to seek answers to important questions and address concerns.  If Members of Congress are acting in the best interests of their constituents, then they should not hesitate to make public their reasons for placing a particular hold.”