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Encyclopedia > Secret hold

A secret hold is a parliamentary procedure within the Standing Rules of the Senate within the United States Senate that allows one or more Senators to anonymously prevent a motion from reaching a vote on the Senate floor. Parliamentary procedure is the name given to the set of rules governing the decision-making process used by a deliberative assembly. ... The Standing Rules of the Senate detail the rules of order of the United States Senate. ... Seal of the U.S. Senate Federal courts Supreme Court Chief Justice Associate Justices Elections Presidential elections Midterm elections Political Parties Democratic Republican Third parties State & Local government Governors Legislatures State Courts Counties, Cities, and Towns Other countries Politics Portal      Senate composition following 2006 elections The United States Senate is... A motion is a formal step to introduce a matter for consideration by a group. ...

Contents

Origin and intent

Sections 2 and 3 of Rule VII (Morning Business) of the Standing Rules of the Senate outline the procedure for bringing motions to the floor of the Senate. Under these rules, "no motion to proceed to the consideration of any bill...shall be entertained...unless by unanimous consent". In practice, this means that a Senator may privately provide notice to their party leadership of their intent to object to a motion. At that point, the motion can not proceed because unanimous consent has not been reached, even though the Senator has not publicly announced their intent to object. This allows a Senator to remain anonymous while preventing the motion to go forward. A two-party system is a form of party system where two major political parties dominate the voting in nearly all elections. ...


The original intent of these sections were to protect a Senator's right to be consulted on legislation that affected the Senator's state or that they had a great interest in. The ability to place a hold would allow that Senator an opportunity to study the legislation and to reflect on what it means before moving forward with further debate and voting.[1]


Controversy

In August 2006, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 was put on secret hold. This bill, intended to encourage transparency within government, was considered by political pundits to be an especially ironic target of a secret hold and much attention was drawn to the bill and to the procedure itself.[2][3] Bloggers and political activists sought to identify the Senator or Senators responsible by process of elimination, by having constituents contact each Senator and requesting a specific on-the-record denial of placing the secret hold. Within 24 hours, 96 Senators had explicitly denied that they had placed the secret hold, leaving only 4 Senators still suspected and under growing public scrutiny as a result.[4] On August 30, a spokesperson for Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska announced that Stevens had placed a hold on the bill.[5] On August 31, 2006, Sen. Byrd also admitted placing a hold on the bill.[6] Ultimately, the bill passed the Senate unanimously. The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (S. 2590)[1] is bill that would require the full disclosure of all entities or organizations receiving federal funds beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2007 on a website maintained by the Office of Management and Budget. ... August 30 is the 242nd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (243rd in leap years), with 123 days remaining. ... Seal of the U.S. Senate Federal courts Supreme Court Chief Justice Associate Justices Elections Presidential elections Midterm elections Political Parties Democratic Republican Third parties State & Local government Governors Legislatures State Courts Counties, Cities, and Towns Other countries Politics Portal      Senate composition following 2006 elections The United States Senate is... Theodore Fulton Ted Stevens (born November 18, 1923) is the senior United States Senator from Alaska. ... Official language(s) English Capital Juneau Largest city Anchorage Area  Ranked 1st  - Total 663,267 sq mi (1,717,855 km²)  - Width 808 miles (1,300 km)  - Length 1,479 miles (2,380 km)  - % water 13. ... Robert Carlyle Byrd (born November 20, 1917) is the senior United States Senator from West Virginia and a member of the Democratic Party. ...


In April 2007, the practice received media attention again when an anonymous senator placed a hold on the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, another bill intended to increase transparency in government.[7] The Sunlight Foundation government watchdog group attempted to "ferret out" the senator who placed the hold.[8] This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the Anno Domini (common) era. ... The Sunlight Foundation was founded in January 2006 with the goal of using the revolutionary power of the Internet and new information technology to enable citizens to learn more about what Congress and their elected representatives are doing, and thus help reduce corruption, ensure greater transparency and accountability by government...


Attempts to amend this rule

Throughout the history of the Senate, multiple unsuccessful attempts have been made to abolish this practice.[9][10] The practice was successfully banned in 1997, but only temporarily. Majority leader Trent Lott and minority leader Tom Daschle altered the rule so that anyone intending to hold a bill had to notify the bill's sponsor and the chair of the appropriate committee. That year, the result was that opponents of a bill would wait until the bill was before the entire Senate before announcing their opposition, wasting time and ultimately delaying other popularly-supported legislation in the process. The practice was soon re-instituted.[11] Chester Trent Lott, Sr. ... Thomas Andrew Daschle (born December 9, 1947), known as Tom Daschle, was a U.S. Senator from South Dakota and the Senate Majority Leader. ...


Additional Links

References

  1. ^ Congressional Record: March 28, 2006
  2. ^ Obama-Coburn Accountability Bill Put on "Secret Hold"
  3. ^ Senator puts 'secret hold' on bill to open federal records
  4. ^ Porkbusters: Who is the Secret Holder?
  5. ^ "Sen. Stevens is 'the secret senator'", 2006-08-30. Retrieved on 2006-08-31.
  6. ^ Rebecca Carr. Byrd admits he placed a hold, now lifts it. Palm Beach Post. Retrieved on 2006 August 31.
  7. ^ http://www.sunlightfoundation.com/node/2428
  8. ^ http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/04/18/secret-hold-placed-on-senate-disclosures/
  9. ^ Senate Resolution 244 from April 17, 2002
  10. ^ Senate Resolution 216 from August 1, 2003
  11. ^ The Scoop on "Secret Holds": No Rules Apply

 
 

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