Senate tricks – the hold

10 Dec

There’s an interesting battle going on between one member of congress and the White House.

It’s a prime example how one person can shutdown the system.

It’s called a “hold” and it’s used all the time when some Senator wants something, and isn’t getting it.

A teachable moment as we open Politics 101.

The White House can’t fill a key science position until it testifies about a decision to block areas of the eastern Gulf and Atlantic seaboard from new oil and gas drilling.

Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana is putting a “hold” on the nomination of Dr. Scott Doney for chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Vitter says the hold stays until he gets answers to the new policy on offshore drilling.

Under Senate rules, a single senator can prevent a nominee from getting a vote on the Senate floor. It takes 60 votes to override such “holds.”

It goes further than that. There’s a “secret hold’ too where no gets to know who started it.

Senate rules allow one or more Senators to prevent a motion from reaching a vote on the Senate floor. All the Senator has to do is provide notice privately to his or her party leadership of their intent (and the party leadership agrees) then the hold is known as a secret or anonymous hold.

Bet you didn’t know that.

The original intent of this was to protect a Senator’s right to be consulted on legislation that affected the Senator’s state or that he or she 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.
Okay, that makes sense.

The was the original intent. Like anything, people can twist it for any use. Holds were not common until the 1970s, when they became common when bipartisanship and manners starting going down the drain. It now happens every session when some senator is upset and wants something.

You can add this to the long list of why congress is dysfunctional.

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