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Senators Need to Stop Abusing the ‘Hold’ Procedure


Norm Ornstein: “The Senate’s deep and dirty secret is that holds work only because every member of the Senate wants them to. Other senators continue to deny unanimous consent not just to protect the prerogatives of their absent colleague, but to protect their own ability to use holds in the future.”

“Every member of the body is culpable, because every one of them wants to have the opportunity to gain leverage over a president or another executive-branch official or agency. Even senators of the same party as the president find many instances where their pleas for attention or action are ignored or downplayed. Using a hold to block confirmation of someone a president dearly wants in office means that attention will be given. Of course, in most cases, the holds are for individuals and do not last very long.”

“Holds have been a part of Senate procedure for a long time, but their use for punitive or ideological motives is relatively recent.”

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