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“Google for government spending” blocked by unknown Senator

I just learned something new about the arcane rules that govern the US Senate. In an interesting story first posted on Cox News Service, an unidentified Senator put a “secret hold” on a bill, effectively blocking its passage until such time as that Senator decides to lift the hold. The irony is that the bill, introduced by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., would create a searchable database of government contracts, grants, insurance, loans and financial assistance, thereby creating increased govt transparency! Read more about it on Mother Jones. And check out Porkbusters to see where your senator stands on the issue.

In an ironic twist, legislation that would open up the murky world of government contracting to public scrutiny has been derailed by a secret parliamentary maneuver.

An unidentified senator placed a “secret hold” on legislation introduced by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., that would create a searchable database of government contracts, grants, insurance, loans and financial assistance, worth $2.5 trillion last year. The database would bring transparency to federal spending and be as simple to use as conducting a Google search.

The measure had been unanimously passed in a voice vote last month by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. It was on the fast track for floor action before Congress recessed Aug. 4 when someone put a hold on the measure.

Now the bill is in political limbo. Under Senate rules, unless the senator who placed the hold decides to lift it, the bill will not be brought up for a vote.

[Thanks Crooks and Liars!]

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2 Comments

  1. jajacobs says:

    Widely reported in today’s news is the identity of the Senator who put the secret hold on this bill. See, for instance: Alaska’s Stevens Put a Hold on Pork-Barrel Transparency Bill, By Joel Havemann, Los Angeles Times, August 31, 2006.

  2. jrjacobs says:

    Even Ze Frank got into it:

    Stevens’ spokesperson said that the senator placed the anonymous hold because “He wants a cost/benefit analysis to make sure it doesn’t create an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy and not meet its purpose.

    Right. You want to do a cost/benefit analysis on a site that lets the public do a cost/benefit analysis on you!

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