Monday, August 28, 2006

Secret hold? No such thing

Cox news reports that a Senator put a 'secret hold' on a bill to open federal records.

There is in fact no such procedure. The only way that a bill can be halted in the Senate is if the Majority party decides not to bring it to the floor or if there is a filibuster.

The Senate observes a set of 'gentleman's agreements' that allow for this type of thing but it is the majority party that decides to observe them or not. If one Senator could in fact exercise a secret veto on any measure they chose to nothing would ever get done. What is really happening here is that a senator has asked the majority leader to block the bill and the majority leader has agreed.

Pretending that such a mechanism does in fact exists allow the majority party to avoid accountability for their actions. It only works as long as the media is willing to go along with the charade. Unlike the mainstream media bloggers have no vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Bloggers do not get favored access to politicians.

Congress will eventually yield to demands for accountability and transparency, a political system where secret holds are put on legislation and secret earmarks are used to reward campaign contributors is simply not sustainable in the blogging age.

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