Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The NYT reports on how the present ethics bill being considered by the Senate may end the practice of anonymous holds on nominations and legislation. Background on the hold:
Technically, a hold is simply a notice from any senator that he or she intends to object to a move to advance a bill or nomination by unanimous consent — the Senate way of clearing the decks and avoiding unnecessary votes on consensus matters.
The proposed rule would require the identification of sponsors of holds after 6 days:

Under the proposed rule, any senator who instituted a hold would be required within six days after raising it to submit a Notice of Intent to Object to Proceeding that would state their name, the date, the matter at hand and the reason for issuing the hold. Any hold lifted within six Senate working days after it was placed would not have to be disclosed.

While the change would not bar holds — and its main target is the secret hold — senators say the underlying intent is to reduce the number of such objections, both public and private.

Senate opinion is divided on the matter. Sen. Wyden (D-OR) is in favor of ending anonymity, but Sen. Sessions (R-AL) thinks that holds are "good government." Proponents of this change hope that it will speed up the Senate's consideration of legislation and allow it to pass more laws.