Oregon Dem wants Senate to stop doing 'business in secret’

An Oregon Democrat is challenging his fellow lawmakers to put an end to the use of secret holds in the Senate.

"For more than a dozen years, Sen. [Chuck] Grassley [R-Iowa] and I -- a Democrat and a Republican -- have sat at tables just like this one, pulling out all the stops to persuade the United States Senate to stop doing public business in secret," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in his testimony before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee hearing on Thursday.


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The hearing examined the use of the filibuster and holds to stall Senate business.


While Wyden acknowledges “there are as many different holds in the Senate as  in pro-wrestling,” he says the secret hold is one of the most powerful.


“What I object to is not the use of holds, but the word ‘secret’ in ‘secret holds,’” said Grassley (R-Iowa), who has been working with Wyden on the issue since 1998.


“If a senator has a legitimate reason to object to proceeding to a bill or nominee, then he or she ought to have the guts to do so publicly.”


Wyden added, “Ending secret holds will take a weapon out of the hands of lobbyists,” Wyden said.


Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) joined Sens. Wyden and Grassley to testify insupport of eliminating secret holds. She hopes to bring “some obnoxiously pushy passion that can get this across the finish line.”


McCaskill said Saturday she has secured the votes to force a rules change ending the Senate's practice of secret holds. The Missouri Democrat, via Twitter, said 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 secret
holds.


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


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