McCaskill Rails Against ‘Secret Holds’ by Both Parties

Posted April 20, 2010 at 11:31am

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) tried to unlock 20 nominations on the Senate floor Tuesday, accusing Members of abusing the chamber’s rules and slow-walking the confirmation process.

“This is really about transparency, and this is about secret holds,” McCaskill said. “And my criticism for secret holds is a bipartisan criticism. I don’t think anybody should do a secret hold.”

She added: “This is not about trying to rush through nominations. This is about trying to make the rules work.”

Democrats have stepped up the pressure on nominations in recent weeks as they prepare for a potentially fierce debate over President Barack Obama’s pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

McCaskill was able to clear the nomination of Stuart Gordon Nash, tapped to serve on the District of Columbia Superior Court, but Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said both parties were working on time agreements for other nominees and would not agree to clear the names. McCaskill noted that Democrats were also secretly holding up some nominations, and she called on Members to disclose their holds under a bipartisan agreement forged by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and adopted in 2007.

“This isn’t about saying that you shouldn’t vote ‘no’ on these people. This is about transparency and open government,” she said.

After McCaskill’s speech on the floor, the Senate voted 78-19 to confirm the nomination of Lael Brainard to serve as an undersecretary in the Treasury Department.