Open Government

Senator Wyden has long felt that the best way to fight corruption and hold government accountable is to increase transparency and subject actions and programs to public scrutiny.  In 2002, he authored the “Stand by Your Ad” law which requires candidates for federal office to reveal their endorsement of campaign ads.  He has fought for greater oversight of national security programs, preserving the independence of inspector generals as well as protections for whistleblowers.  And his efforts to end the executive branch practice of deriving new authorities from secret legal interpretations has sparked a mainstream debate over the use of “secret law.”

Early in his Senate career, Wyden teamed with Republican Senator Chuck Grassley to end the Senate’s use of “secret holds,” which made it possible for a single senator to secretly and indefinitely block legislation and nominations.  Over the course of a decade, Wyden and Grassley secured pledges from leadership and passed multiple resolutions to end the practice only to have pledges ignored and resolutions mysteriously eliminated in conference committees.  In 2007, Wyden and Grassley passed a resolution requiring that all holds be publicly disclosed after three legislative days, the amendment was altered as part of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act to require disclosure after six days.  Wyden and Grassley stayed at it and in 2011, they passed a resolution tightening that restriction to force public disclosure of all holds within two days of an objection being lodged.  Since the rule change, notice and justifications for holds have routinely appeared in the Federal Register and Congressional Record making public accountability a growing standard in the Senate.