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Round one: McCaskill vs. secret holds (April 20, 2010)

Secret holds redux (April 21, 2010)

Senator Claire McCaskill (D) speaking today in the Senate on secret holds:

The transcript:

Senator Claire McCaskill (D): Mr. President, I came to the floor on Tuesday of this week to, um, do something that I don’t think had been done before under the rules. We had a new law that went into effect, uh, in the early part of two thousand and seven that gave us a mechanism that was supposed to stop secret holds. Uh, and we are all waiting to see if, if by moving all of the nominations by unanimous consent if in fact the owners of the secret holds step forward. While we wait to see if the rule that was designed and passed into law works a bunch of us have been talking. And the, the folks that have been talking about this are the newest members of the Senate in the Democratic Party. There are twenty-one of us that arrived in the United States Senate sometime between now and January of two thousand and seven. It’s a pity, pretty big group of senators. And in discussing the secret holds with my colleagues that have been here for a fairly short period of time we decided well why don’t we just quit doing ’em. Let’s quit worrying about whether you’re identifying yourself in six days or whether you’re gonna play the switcheroo and pull your secret hold and put another secret hold in. Let’s just stop it. No more secret holds.

So, we know have drafted a letter to Senator Reid and Leader McConnell, Leader Reid and lead, Leader McConnell. And we have said, first, we will not do secret holds. We’re out of the business of secret holds. We’re not gonna do ’em. And secondly, we want the Senate to pass a rule that prohibits them entirely. If you want to hold somebody, fine. But say who you are and why you’re doing it. Want to vote against somebody, that’s your right. But this notion that you can, behind closed doors, do some kind of secret negotiation to get something you want from the agency, and let’s be honest about it, that’s what a lot of this is. It’s getting leverage, secretly getting leverage for something you want. Well, those aren’t appropriate secrets for the public business. Uh, we have eighty secret holds right now. About seventy-six of those are Republican secret holds. Four are Democratic secret holds. And by the way, all eighty of the ones I made the motion on, all came out of committee unanimously. We even checked on the voice votes to make sure that no one said no in committee. There were no no votes. Completely unopposed out of committee these eighty nominees. For everything from the Ambassador to Syria to U.S. Marshalls to U.S. Attorneys, these are people that need to get to work. And they’re going to pass here. They’re all gonna pass. So we need to get this done, we need to stop secret holds, we need to get these people confirmed, and we need to change the way we do business around here.

So I am, and I want to once again give a shout out to Senator Wyden and Grassley who worked on this issue for a number of years. We are gonna open up this letter to all of the members of the Senate and hopefully, before we find out, we’re all waiting to see what happens in the six days that are looming for all these secret holds, if people step up into the sunshine. If they don’t, in the meantime we hopefully will get unanimous support from the United States Senators that secret holds are now out of fashion and no longer gonna be tolerated in the United States Senate…