Thursday, June 3, 2010

Senators Fed Up With Secret Blocks On Nominees : NPR

Senators Fed Up With Secret Blocks On Nominees : NPR

Nearly a year and a half after taking office, President Obama is still struggling to get scores of his key executive and judicial branch appointees confirmed by the Senate. Almost all of those nominations have been stalled by unnamed Republican senators using what's known as the "secret hold." The practice, which has been around a long time, is essentially an anonymous threat to filibuster any attempt to vote on a bill or nomination.

Two years ago, the Senate voted to require that the names of those placing secret holds be made public within six legislative days. But the rule has rarely been honored. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) now wants the names of the secret holders revealed within two days — or the senator who objects on their behalf will own the hold. Wyden said secret holds have become a powerful tool not just for senators but for lobbyists as well.

But when Grassley and Wyden tried last week to have a vote on their secret holds measure, South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint objected.

"There are a lot of pressing issues that we face as a country," DeMint said. "But one of them is not secret holds."

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