McCaskill says she has votes to end Senate practice of secret holds

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Saturday she's secured the votes to force a rules change ending the Senate's practice of secret holds.

McCaskill said on Twitter that she had secured the support of two more senators to give her the 67 votes necessary to change the rules in the Senate to abolish the traditional practice of being able to anonymously hold up nominees to positions requiring Senate confirmation.

Sens. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) were the last two signatories.

McCaskill tweeted Saturday:


First battle won!With Sens Bond and Brownbeck now have 67 Senators on my letter calling for the end to secret holds.Now gotta get a vote.

66 senators have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in support of the rules change, and Reid has said he supports the change, too, but did not sign the letter since it was addressed to him.

McCaskill said earlier this month that she was two votes shy of ending the practice, which gives minority party senators the ability to hold up nominees. Republicans have used the privilege to some effect against President Barack Obama's nominees, most notably senior Sen. Richard Shelby's (R-Ala.) hold earlier this year on 70 of the president's picks for various positions requiring federal confirmation.

Whether Reid schedules a vote this year will be key to ending the practice. Bond and Brownback will both leave the Senate at the end of their terms next year, as will Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.), another Republican in support of changing the rule on secret holds.


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