One insane Senate procedure used to preserve another insane Senate procedure
You know about secret holds, right? Where a senator can block consideration of an item without publicly revealing that he or she is the one blocking consideration of that item? Yesterday afternoon, Ron Wyden and Chuck Grassley were all set to bring a bipartisan amendment to the floor that would end the practice, or at least try to, by attaching language to the financial-regulation bill that would kill off secret holds.
Then Jim DeMint stood up.
Secret holds are just one of many insane Senate traditions that can be used to impede progress. In an effort to preserve them, DeMint used another. He attached a "secondary amendment" to the Wyden/Grassley amendment. Now, if you voted for the amendment to end secret holds, you'd also be voting for an amendment establishing a border fence. Democrats obviously weren't interested in that. At the same time, Republicans were afraid of seeming like they'd voted against a border fence, particularly now that DeMint has taken to intervening in Republican primaries left and right (or, I guess, right and righter). Wyden had to withdraw the amendment, and he was not happy.
DeMint's argument, as I understand it, was that the Grassley/Wyden amendment was non-germane, and if they got to offer non-germane amendments, he wanted to get to offer non-germane amendments, too. And so it goes in the world's greatest deliberative body.
May 14, 2010; 2:23 PM ET
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