Senators Get New Guidelines In Wake Of Secret Holds

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February 11, 2011 7:40 a.m.
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A Senate source passes along a memo that’s been circulated to all Democratic offices explaining how things will change now that the rules forbid secret holds.

You can read the entire memo here, though be aware it’s written in the inelegant prose of parliamentary procedure.The gist — and what will actually cause the cultural ground to shift a bit under the senators themselves — is that members can no longer expect to keep their objections hidden from each other. While the media might still remain in the dark about who’s gumming things up in the Senate (something reporters won’t like at all) advocates — of a bill, nominee, or other issue — will have a right to know.

Here’s how the memo describes it: “[F]rom here on out, after a “hotline” is conducted, after 2 days and a status inquiry from the Democratic requester, the floor staff will inform the requester what offices have concerns about the bill.”

In the past, Senators could do this all privately. That created the incentives for holds — members didn’t have to worry about brushing up against colleagues and allies. However, the new regime could lead to a situation where senators enlist proxies to place holds for them. So the real impact is to be determined.

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