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Sloan: Secret Holds Are Filibuster's Silent Partner in Stalling

As the Senate considers rule changes for the 113th Congress, CREW proposes that Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., explicitly authorize the Ethics Committee to investigate and discipline senators who employ secret holds in violation of Senate rules.

Absent such an enforcement mechanism, senators will continue to shamelessly violate the ban. In fact, if filibuster changes are adopted, we might even see an increase in the use of secret holds as senators attempt to thwart consideration of bills and nominations they oppose.

Americans yearn for a government that faces our nationís many challenges head-on. Given the Capitolís abject dysfunction, is it any wonder Congress is less popular than lice? Curbing the use of procedural maneuvers such as secret holds and the filibuster that do little more than impede consideration of the peopleís business is one step the Senate can take on the long road back to restoring public confidence in Congress.

Melanie Sloan is executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

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