Senate Puts a Stop to Secret Holds

By Matt Jaffe

Jan 27, 2011 6:37pm

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:

The Senate today voted to end so-called “secret holds,” a procedural move used by lawmakers to anonymously block legislation or nominees.

The vote was 92-4, with three of the four senators voting against ending secret holds came from the Senate’s Tea Party Caucus: Jim DeMint, R-SC, Mike Lee, R-UT, and Rand Paul, R-KY. The fourth vote came from John Ensign, R-NV.

“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,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-MO, said about ending secret holds. “We’ve been sent here to do the people’s business and the American people deserve greater transparency and accountability.”  

The Senate also voted 81-15 to waive the reading of amendments as a time-killing maneuver.

However senators rejected a few more sweeping measures that would have overhauled the rules in an effort to cut back on filibusters. Tom Harkin’s attempt to gradually reduce the number of votes needed to invoke cloture was defeated by 12-84 and a push to insist on talking filibusters also came up short later in the evening.

Earlier today Democrat and Republican leaders today reached an agreement to try to make the upper chamber run more smoothly. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and top Republican Mitch McConnell struck a gentleman’s agreement for the majority to cut down on blocking minority amendments and in turn for the minority to cut down on filibustering motions to proceed. And they both promised not to use the so-called “Constitutional option” to change Senate rules with a simple majority vote of 51 senators, rather than the customary threshold of 67.

That agreement left some lawmakers disappointed that the stronger proposals to stop filibusters never got the support they needed to make any real headway.

 

 

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