Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hinted that senators' anonymous holds on nominations could be referred to the Senate Ethics Committee.

Reid mentioned Tuesday that sending complaints over holds to the ethics panel could be among the options to force Republican senators to drop their holds, a procedural privilege which allows any senator to block a nomination from going forward.

"There are scores and scores of Republican holds. They have been asked to follow the law and they refuse to do so," Reid said during his weekly press conference at the Capitol. "The law is after a set number of days, they're supposed to state in the Congressional Record why they have the holds. They refuse to do that."

"So I've told Senator [Ron] Wyden (D-Ore.) I think that we have to have a little more clout in what happens -- maybe referral to the Ethics Committee," Reid added.

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) had asked the Ethics Committee in December to formally investigate the use of secret holds, reasoning the 2007 Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA) prohibited the use of such a tactic.

CREW received a response from the committee's chief council in early April declining the request, saying that investigating the section of the HLOGA law that deals with holds "does not appear to be within the limited jurisdiction of the committee."

Reid said that he's working to end the practice of anonymous holds, which Republicans have used to stall a number of nominations, by encouraging Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D-Mo.) campaign against the practice, and by encouraging Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to push forward with legislation to limit the practice.