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New CRS Report on Senate Holds

We’ve written about how secret Senate holds have blocked transparency legislation that had wide bipartisan support. Last month the Congressional Research Service came out with this report on the subject of holds:

Senate Policy on "Holds": Action in the 110th Congress
November 20, 2007

"When the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (S. 1, 110th Congress) was signed into law on September 14, 2007, Section 512 of that statute specifically addressed the issue of secret "holds." Holds are a longstanding custom of the Senate that enabled Members to provide notice to their party leader of their intent to object on the floor to taking up or passing a measure or matter. Their potency as a blocking, delaying, or bargaining device is linked to Senators’ ability to conduct filibusters or object to unanimous consent agreements or requests. The new holds process outlined in Section 512 is designed to constrain the frequency of anonymous holds and promote more openness and transparency with respect to their use. Ultimately, it is up to the majority leader of the Senate — who sets the chamber’s agenda after consulting various people — to decide whether, or for how long, he will honor a colleague’s hold. This report will be updated if circumstances warrant a revision."


So the next time there is a secret hold, the main chap to complain to will be:

Reid, Harry- (D – NV)   
(202) 224-3542
Web Form:


Thanks to the Open CRS project at for getting ahold of this report and making it available to the public. Their work is very important because Congress has prevented its research arm from making CRS reports available to the public, even though they are in the public domain and unclassified. Most of the arguments we’ve heard not releasing CRS reports apply equally well to the Government Accountability Office, which has released all of its non-classified information products for many years.


CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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