This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
They don’t call the U.S. Senate the world’s greatest deliberative body for nothing – deliberation being a synonym, in its case, for glacial decision-making and process worship.
This week offers a rare opportunity for junking an indefensible chock in the Senate’s wheels: the secret hold. It’s a parliamentary trick senators employ to anonymously block votes on bill and presidential nominees. Even other senators sometimes don’t know which of their colleagues has tied up the question or why.
Republicans and Democrats – most notably Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa – have been trying for years to rid the Senate of this particularly spineless form of obstructionism.
The power to openly and temporarily hold action on a measure is a perfectly defensible privilege; senators may want to clarify what’s really in a bill that affects their home states, or study the qualifications of a nominee.
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