Mr. President, I listened to the Senator from Colorado, and I was thinking about our two States. They both are beautiful States. OK, they have a few more mountains than we do, but we have 10,000 lakes. We both have open democracies--governments that work, governments that are open. There is no secrecy in our States. We have blue skies, open prairies, open lands. To me, it is no surprise that we would have Senators from these two States standing and saying this is ridiculous.
I thought Senator Udall did a great job of going through all the numbers and the nominations that have been put on hold, but we all know what is at the root of this. It is a procedural game that allows this to happen--the secret hold.
When I came to the Senate in 2007, my first priority was ethics reform. I was so pleased, and I thought we had gotten rid of the secret hold. That is what we said we did. The rule we adopted then--as soon as unanimous consent was made regarding a specific nominee--said that a Senator placing a hold has to submit to the majority leader a written note of intent that includes the reason for their objection. So they have to put in writing why they are objecting. Then it says that no later than 6 days after the submission, the hold is to be printed in the Congressional Record for everyone to see.
So we thought this was a pretty good idea--sunshine being the best disinfectant. By making the hold public and forcing Senators to be accountable for their actions, we could have open debate. As I heard Senator Shaheen just say, we should be able to tell the world why we are putting on a hold. We may have a good idea.
But that is not what has been happening. Instead, what has been happening is, Senators are playing games with the rules. They are following the letter but not the spirit of the reform. It is unbelievable to me. They are actually rotating holds.
It is sort of like what we see in the Olympics, where they have a relay and they hand off the baton. This baton is going from one Senator to another so they can keep the hold going. One Senator has it for 6 days. Then it is passed off to another for 6 days. So I guess if delay was an Olympic sport, they would get the Gold Medal.
What we have is a group of Senators from the other side of the aisle, for the most part, who are gaming the system. We have been spending a lot of time in the last few days talking about other people who game the system--people on Wall Street--so I don't think it should be happening in this very Chamber.
I am very pleased Senator McCaskill, along with Senators Grassley and Wyden, have been working on this for so long and have taken a lead on it. I urge my colleagues to sign this letter to end the secret hold. There shouldn't be secrets from the public when it comes to nominations. This isn't a matter of top-secret national security or some strategy that we would use when we go to war. This is about nominations from the White House. This is about people who are going to be serving in public jobs. We should know who is holding them up, who doesn't want them to come up for a vote and why. Then we can make a decision and the public will have the knowledge of what is going on in this place. That is the only way we are going to be able to build trust again with this democracy.
I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.