Ten little senators
Posted by aogTuesday, 29 August 2006 at 14:57 TrackBack Ping URL

I have been tracking the bill to create a database of federal spending, which I think is a great idea. It has also lead to a wonderful mystery, of which Senator has put the hold on it. I checked, and both of the senators from my state (Senators Obama and Durbin) have issued denials of being the guilty party.

I think that the list of proclaimed innocent Senators is a great idea. As the list grows longer, the pressure on the guilty grows as it becomes harder to hide his identity. Presumably he doesn’t want this revealed, or it wouldn’t be a secret hold. The question is whether the field will narrow fast enough to force an abandonment of the hold before public interest drifts off to something else. It depends on how many supporters the hold out has who are willing to take the heat while providing camoflauge. I think it extremely unlikely that his identity will ever be known for certain, as I can’t imagine anything being worth holding out to the very end.

But this all leaves me wondering, though, about why this is possible. If a single Senator can put a hold like this on legislation, why are there filibusters? Why doesn’t one of filibustering gang simply put a hold on the legislation? Why wasn’t welfare reform back in the mid 1990s stopped this way? There must be something else I’m missing.

UPDATE: Wow, down to three already. It sounds like the Senators think there’s some real heat on this issue. It’s definitely a hard one to publically defend. But, with only three left, I think we can be reasonably confident it’s Senator Stevens from Alaska, Mr. Bridge to Nowhere. The question now is whether there is enough perceived voter unrest for Stevens’ fellow Republican Senators to throw him to the wolves over this.

UPDATE: Captain’s Quarters has Senator Bill Frist explain the hold vs. filibuster issue. Basically, a hold isn’t permanent, it’s just a matter of politeness. If the bill is forced anyway (as Frist claims he will do) then various votes have to occur, etc., which is where a real filibuster would start.

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