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View Diary: Republicans responsible for whistleblower 'secret hold' (42 comments)

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  •  Yes, the whole "secret hold" thing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MsGrin, Observerinvancouver

    seems to have become perverted from it's original purpose, which was to give a wayward senator enough time (usually 6 days, tops) to ride their horse back to Washington so as to not miss an important vote.

    •  Have you diaried about that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy

      since you know the history?  I think it would be well-received.

      “I have one dollar in my wallet. That’s more than the combined income tax liability of GE, ExxonMobil, Citibank, and the Bank of America. That means somebody is gaming the system.” Carl Gibson

      by MsGrin on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 10:01:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That doesn't match my understanding (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CanyonWren, kurt

      The 6 days thing is a new rule, intended to limit the use of secret holds, not a historical holdover.

      Holds actually started as a time-saver. The Senate works by unanimous consent. Any Senator can object to moving forward on any motion. If one does, a 60 vote cloture is required to continue. More importantly in most cases, various time limits kick in. A day before the cloture vote can be held and 30 hours of debate afterwards. All a hold really is a an announcement of intent to object. Rather than wait until everyone is assembled and ready to vote, the Senator informs his leadership not to bother since he'll be objecting. If he wishes to be anonymous, he tells his party leader (usually the minority leader) who informs the majority leader that one of his members will object. Obviously it's more efficient to know upfront so you can schedule votes you can actually proceed on, but this process also makes it easier to use and abuse the hold.

      The Empire never ended.

      by thejeff on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 10:52:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good, point, it'd take much (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        longer than 6 days to ride a horse back to DC from Alaska or Hawaii!  So you are correct about that aspect being a modern (and quite avoidable) modern twist.

        But according to the New Yorker article linked above, that's why they had the hold in the first place:

        These incidents elicited a brief outcry, but the extent of the Senate’s routine folly remains largely hidden. For example, Grassley and Ron Wyden, of Oregon, have been trying since 1997 to end the practice of secret holds, without success. In 2007, the Senate passed a bill banning secret holds that last longer than six days. But to get around the ban two or more senators can pass the hold back and forth—it’s called “rolling holds”—and their party leader facilitates the game by keeping their names secret.

        Many of the Senate’s antique rules and precedents have been warped beyond recognition by the modern pressures of partisanship. The hold, for example, was a courtesy extended to senators in the days of horse travel, when they needed time to get back to Washington and read a bill or question an appointee before casting their vote.

        •  It's possible. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roadbed Guy

          The modern hold really seems to derive from basic Senate rules. It wouldn't have worked as it does now before the filibuster, or before cloture rules were adopted in the early 20th century.

          I think the New Yorker may have it wrong here.
          There may be historical precedent and the unanimous consent rule itself may have been adopted to be sure that Senators had time to consider, though it wouldn't have helped Senators who were not present.
          The Hold, whatever the Senate Rules say, is really just an artifact of the basic Senate Rules of unanimous consent and cloture. Without changing those, you can't get rid of holds. You can't even get rid of secret holds, since any Senator can object and claim to be doing so on another's behalf. The most you could do there is blame the one who actually objects, usually the Minority Leader.

          The Empire never ended.

          by thejeff on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 12:24:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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