May 14, 2010

Senator DeMint blocked legislation to restrict use of secret holds

By CREW Staff

It's almost comical when a U.S. Senator who consistently uses secret holds to thwart legislation gets sanctimonious about Senate procedure. But, that's what happened yesterday when Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) blocked movement on an amendment to end the practice of "secret holds." It's not comical. It's actually hypocritical:

Republicans thwarted a bipartisan attempt to restrict secret holds in the Senate on Thursday night, arguing that the measure was unrelated to the financial reform bill the Senate was considering.

The Senate was expected to vote Thursday afternoon on an amendment by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) restricting secret holds. But Wyden chose to withdraw the measure after Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said he would attempt to attach to it language requiring construction of a 700-mile security fence along the Southwest border.

“Until about an hour or so ago, I thought we would win a dramatic victory for the cause of open government,” Wyden said on the floor, adding that he was “flabbergasted” that DeMint pushed his security amendment, which would have made it impossible to pass the provision on secret holds.

A senior GOP aide said DeMint chose to push his measure because Democrats “degenerated the amendment process into one with a bunch of off-topic political votes.”


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