St. Louis Public Radio News
12:04 pm
Wed June 23, 2010

McCaskill calls for an end to the secret hold

St. Louis, MO – The Senate Rules Committee heard testimony today on a parliamentary maneuver known as the secret hold.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill is leading the charge to get rid of the rule, which allows any member to delay Senate business anonymously.

McCaskill said her fellow Senators are abusing secret holds by delaying dozens of presidential nominations. In particular, she says holdups in judicial confirmations are hurting the federal court system.

On a conference call with reporters ahead of the Rules Committee hearing today, the Democrat said secret holds are counter to the principle of open government.

"This is not the right message that we need to be sending from the United States Capitol, that secrecy is part of our government," said McCaskill.

The Senate passed a rule against secret holds three years ago, but McCaskill said there was no way to enforce it.

McCaskill got 67 of her fellow senators to sign a letter opposing secret holds, but she's seeking even more support. The Senate, she said, is often slow to change its traditions.