There's a loose thread to this "secret hold" story, and it bothers us.
By this morning, the dogged persistence of hundreds of bloggers and blogreaders garnered denials from 98 senators saying they did not hold up the Coburn/Obama spending transparency database bill. Only one senator, Ted "King of Pork" Stevens (R-AK), has admitted placing a hold on the bill.
But do the math -- you'll find that makes 99 senators. And Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) ain't one.
That's right: Byrd, whose penchant for pork would probably win him the Pork Crown if he weren't saddled with minority status, has for days declined to answer constituents and others who have asked if he put a hold on the spending database proposal, S. 2590.
We have called and emailed his office and press secretary at least a half-dozen times over two days. Yesterday, we were promised a statement by the end of the day; none came. This morning, spokesman Tom Gavin continued to blame Byrd's travel schedule for the lack of response.
What's more, staff in the personal and leadership offices of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have been almost uniformly mum on the issue. If Byrd placed a hold on the legislation, he would have had to notify Reid's office to do so. After several calls and conversations with numerous staffers, Reid spokesman Jon Steinberg would say for the record only that "it's the policy of our office not to talk about holds."
However, Reid's office on Tuesday confirmed that the senator himself had not placed a hold on the bill.
The office of Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), who would know of the existence of a Democratic hold but not necessarily the identity of the holder, declined to comment. Frist has encouraged all senators to publicly declare their actions with regard to the Obama/Coburn bill.
We aren't the only ones wondering about Byrd's status. Yesterday, unsubstantiated rumors came from Senate Republican staffers claiming that GOP leadership staff knew of a Democratic hold on the bill.
Some blogs, including RedState.com and Suitably Flip, have reported without proof statements from anonymous "reliable," "Capitol Hill" sources that Byrd has a hold on the bill.
So, does he? It's a mystery to us how every one of Byrd's 99 colleagues have gone on record regarding the hold, yet he himself won't sing.