June 22, 2010

Wyden and Grassley to Testify in Rules Committee on Eliminating Secret Holds

Washington, D.C. – Tomorrow at 10:00 am EDT (7:00 am PDT) in room SR-305, U.S. Senator’s Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) will testify before of the Senate Rules Committee on their more than decade’s worth of experience trying to end the use of secret holds in the U.S. Senate.

The hearing will be webcast live online and will be available in archived form shortly after the conclusion of the hearing. The webcast will start approximately 15 minutes prior to the start of the hearing and can be accessed by following this link.

While both Wyden and Grassley have lived up to their long-standing personal commitments never to place secret holds, the two have spent more than thirteen years pressuring their colleagues to eliminate the practice altogether:

·        In 1997, Wyden and Grassley successfully included a proposal to eliminate secret holds into an appropriations bill.  The provision, however, was eliminated in conference.

·        In 1999, Wyden and Grassley elicited personal commitments from both the Republican and Democratic leaders that neither leader would honor a hold unless it was formally made in writing.  The commitment was made in a “Dear Colleague” letter which was published in the Congressional Record on March 3, 1999.  However, the pledge was not enforced and both Democrats and Republicans continued to employ secret holds in the 106th Congress.

·        Wyden and Grassley introduced legislation to eliminate secret holds in each of the respective Congresses and, in 2006, won adoption of an amendment to the ethics, lobbying and rules reform practice by establishing a new standing order of the Senate that would have required all Senators to submit a public explanation of their hold to the Congressional Record within three days.  While the amendment passed the U.S. Senate by a vote of 84 to 13, the provision was amended in Conference to require that Senators disclose their holds in writing after six session days and only after a formal objection to a unanimous consent request is made.

·        Earlier this year, when it became clear that use of secret holds continued to flourish, Wyden and Grassley offered the Secret Holds Elimination Act (S.Res.502; S.Amdt.4019) as an amendment to the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010.  Their effort has been repeatedly blocked by an objecting Senator.