Congressional Record: March 8, 2006 (Senate)]
[Page S1872-S1881]


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi.
  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I believe the Senate did clear the Dodd-
Santorum amendment, so the pending issue is the Wyden-Grassley-Inhofe 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The amendment has not been submitted so it is 
not currently the pending question.
  Mr. WYDEN addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi has the floor.
  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I believe, then, we would be ready to go 
with this amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon is recognized.

                           Amendment No. 2944

  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I propose the Wyden-Grassley-Inhofe 
amendment, No. 2944, which is at the desk and ask for its immediate 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Oregon [Mr. Wyden], for himself and Mr. 
     Grassley, proposes an amendment numbered 2944.

  Mr. WYDEN. I ask unanimous consent the reading of the amendment be 
dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

(Purpose: To establish as a standing order of the Senate a requirement 
   that a Senator publicly disclose a notice of intent to object to 
                  proceeding to any measure or matter)

       At the end of title I, add the following:


       (a) In General.--The majority and minority leaders of the 
     Senate or their designees shall recognize a notice of intent 
     of a Senator who is a member of their caucus to object to 
     proceeding to a measure or matter only if the Senator--
       (1) submits the notice of intent in writing to the 
     appropriate leader or their designee; and
       (2) within 3 session days after the submission under 
     paragraph (1), submits for inclusion in the Congressional 
     Record and in the applicable calendar section described in 
     subsection (b) the following notice:
       ``I, Senator __, intend to object to proceeding to __, 
     dated __.''.
       (b) Calendar.--The Secretary of the Senate shall establish 
     for both the Senate Calendar of Business and the Senate 
     Executive Calendar a separate section entitled ``Notices of 
     Intent to Object to Proceeding''. Each section shall include 
     the name of each Senator filing a notice under subsection 
     (a)(2), the measure or matter covered by the calendar that 
     the Senator objects to, and the date the objection was filed.
       (c) Removal.--A Senator may have an item with respect to 
     the Senator removed from a calendar to which it was added 
     under subsection (b) by submitting for inclusion in the 
     Congressional Record the following notice:
       ``I, Senator __, do not object to proceeding to __, dated 

  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, if you walked down the Main Streets of this 
country and asked people what a hold was in the U.S. Senate, I think it 
is fair to say nobody would have any idea what it is you were talking 
about. In fact, they might hear the world ``hold,'' and they would 
think it was part of the wrestling championships that are going on 
across this country right now. But the reason I am on the floor of the 
Senate today with my distinguished colleague, Senator Grassley, and 
Senator Inhofe, is that the hold in the Senate, which is the ability to 
object to a bill or nomination coming before the Senate, is an 
extraordinary power that a United States Senator has, and a power that 
can be exercised in secret.
  At the end of a congressional session, legislation involving vast 
sums of money or the very freedoms on which our country relies can die 
just because of a secret hold in the Senate. At any point in the 
legislative process, an objection can delay or derail an issue to the 
point where it can't be effectively considered.
  What is particularly unjust about all of this is that it prevents a 
Senator from being held accountable. I think Members would be 
incredulous to learn this afternoon that the Intelligence 
reauthorization bill, a piece of legislation which is vital to our 
national security, has now been held up for months as a result of a 
secret hold.
  I am going to talk a little bit about the consequences of holding up 
an Intelligence authorization bill in a moment. But I want to first be 
clear on what the Wyden-Grassley-Inhofe amendment would do. It would 
force the Senate to do its business in public, and it would bring the 
secret holds out of the shadows of the Senate and into the sunshine. 
Our bipartisan amendment would make a permanent change to the 
procedures of the Senate to require openness and accountability. We 
want to emphasize that we are not going to bar Senators from exercising 
their power to put a hold on a bill or nomination. All we are saying 
is, a Senator who wants that right should also have a responsibility to 
the people he or she represents and to the country at large.
  Now, to the hold on the Intelligence bill that has been in place for 
more than 3 months, I think every Member of the Senate would agree that 
authorizing the intelligence programs of this country is a critical 
priority for America. Striking the balance between fighting terrorism 
ferociously and protecting our civil liberties is one of the most 
important functions of this Senate. The bill that is now being held up 
as a result of a secret hold, the Intelligence reauthorization bill, 
has been

[[Page S1873]]

reviewed by a number of Senate committees. It was reported by the 
Intelligence Committee late last September, by the Armed Services 
Committee last October, and by the Homeland and Governmental Affairs 
Committee last November.
  I particularly commend Chairman Roberts who worked with me on a 
number of amendments, amendments that I felt strongly about, because 
this legislation does ensure that there will be accountability and 
oversight in the Intelligence Committee by establishing a strong 
inspector general, by requiring that the committees get the documents 
they need to perform effective oversight over the intelligence 
community, and by making the heads of the key agencies subject to 
Senate confirmation.
  I think the Senate would particularly want to know if this 
legislation, the Intelligence reauthorization bill that is held up by a 
secret hold, does not move forward, it will be the first time since the 
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was established in 1978 that 
the Senate has failed to act on an Intelligence reauthorization bill.
  What we have is a situation where a single, anonymous Senator has 
invoked a practice that cannot be found anywhere in the Senate rules 
and has lodged an objection to a piece of legislation that is 
critically important to the well-being of America. Senators have often 
asked Senator Grassley and myself and Senator Inhofe: Where are the 
examples of these secret holds? Exactly why do you believe your 
legislation is important? We now have a textbook case of a secret hold 
that is injurious to America.
  For all the talk about earmarks--we have been discussing that here on 
the Senate floor, as well as the scope of conference, line-item vetoes 
and the like--I would wager that no weapon is more important and more 
powerful to each Senator than the ability to stop amendments, 
legislation, and nominations through secret holds. I believe as U.S. 
Senators we occupy a position of public trust and that the exercise of 
the power that has been vested in each of us should be accompanied by 
public accountability.
  I have no quarrel with the use of a hold. I have used them myself on 
several occasions. But what is offensive to the democratic process is 
the anonymity, the secrecy, the lack of accountability when a Senator 
tries to exercise this extraordinary power in secret.
  Let me just wrap up, because I see the distinguished chairman of the 
Finance Committee is here, with a quick minute on the history of these 
efforts. Senator Grassley and I have been at this for almost a decade. 
The Rules Committee held a hearing on our proposal in the summer of 
2003. We worked with Chairman Lott and with the ranking minority 
member, Senator Dodd, extensively. This is a matter that has been 
considered at length by colleagues.
  Senator Lott knows firsthand about this issue because he has 
personally spent many hours with me as he has wrestled with it, and in 
fact tried to set in place some voluntary procedures that would curtail 
the abuses of the secret hold.
  These secret holds have been an embarrassment to the Senate in my 
view, and they have been an embarrassment for a long time. But I cannot 
recall an instance where we had a hold, a secret hold on the 
Intelligence authorization bill at a time when our country is at war. 
This is a practice that needs to end.
  I yield now for the distinguished chairman of the Finance Committee, 
Senator Grassley. I reserve the remainder of my time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa is recognized.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, today I put a hold on the President's 
nominee for the Export-Import Bank. I don't usually issue a press 
release when I do that, but I did that because it is in relationship to 
a problem we are having with the Export-Import Bank on an ethanol 
issue, and I want the people to know that it is broader than just some 
of the small reasons you do holds around here.
  But I have had a practice, as this amendment would mandate--I have 
had a practice over the last 7 or 8 years of putting a statement in the 
Congressional Record when I use a hold. I believe I use a hold a little 
less often than some of my colleagues do, but I agree. A lot of people 
maybe use a hold because they do not want to put up with the fuss that 
goes on when you make public why you are holding up a bill and who you 
are. But I want to assure you, I have been in the Senate for 25 years, 
and I have not lost one ounce of blood. I have not had one black and 
blue mark. I don't believe I have had any fight with any colleague over 
the practice when they know who I am.
  Of course, if they were secret and they never knew I was doing it, I 
wouldn't have to worry about any of these things. But I believe, as my 
colleague from Oregon does, that the people's business is the people's 
business, and the people's business ought to be public. I believe if 
you have guts enough to put a special hold on legislation, you ought to 
have guts enough to say who you are and why you are doing it. I think 
your constituents ought to know that. But more importantly, just to get 
things done around here, your colleagues ought to know who it is 
because if you have a gripe, let's get the gripe out in the open and 
let's talk about it.
  What is wrong in America that we do not want to talk about some 
things? I don't know how often my constituents brag about: ``There are 
two things I never talk about, religion and politics.'' There are no 
things that you ought to talk about more than religion and politics 
because they have more influence on your life than anything else that 
we do in American society. But somehow you can't think that you can do 
it in a civil way when you ought to be able to do it in a civil way. In 
the U.S. Senate you ought to be able to do all this stuff in a civil 
  I hope my experiences of not having any harm done to me in any way 
for putting a hold on, that people will back this amendment and get the 
public's business out. There is nothing wrong with the word ``hold,'' 
but there is something wrong with the word ``secret.'' When you read it 
in the newspapers you never hear the word ``hold'' unless the word 
``secret'' is connected with it.
  The people around the countryside of America, at least in my State of 
Iowa, think what is wrong with American Government is that there is too 
much secrecy, too much behind-the-scenes dealing, too much money in 
politics--all those things that give us kind of a black eye with the 
public. This is not going to solve these problems, just taking the word 
``secret'' out of the hold.
  But at least the newspapers won't be able to use the word ``secret'' 
anymore. And maybe when bit by bit we do some of these things around 
here we will be able to elevate public service to be the honorable 
profession that it ought to be.
  This is a small effort on the part of my colleague and myself and now 
Senator Inhofe to do that.
  How do you eat 10,000 marshmallows? You eat one at a time. How are 
you going to raise public respect for the Senate? You are going to do 
it a little bit at a time. This may be too little for some people. But 
the way caucuses are being held around here on this very subject in the 
last hour, you know this is a big deal--and it should be a big deal.
  This is the public's business. Having expressed those views, I would 
like to go to a statement I have that maybe will make more sense.
  The time has come for the Senate as a body to rid itself of a serious 
blemish. And, of course, I am talking about the practice I just spoke 
about of placing anonymous holds on legislation or nominations.
  The power of the hold is to stop a bill or a nomination in its 
tracks, which each Senator possesses. It was never authorized or even 
intended. It is just a practice. It is not in the books.
  I do not object to the use of this powerful tool, so long as it is 
accompanied with some public accountability. However, the current lack 
of transparency in the process is an affront to the principle of open 
government, and I think it is an embarrassment to this body.
  The amendment by Senator Wyden and myself and Senator Inhofe which we 
proposed today would establish a standing order requiring that holds be 
made public. We believe it is time to have the Senate consider our 
proposed standing order and then decide as a body whether to end this 
secret process.

[[Page S1874]]

  For my colleagues who might be apprehensive about this change in 
doing business, I ask you to just give it a try. I should point out 
that this measure is a standing order which, while binding on Senators, 
does not formally amend the Senate rules and can more easily be changed 
if it turns out to be unworkable.
  I have no doubt that once instituted this reform will be found to be 
very sound and no reason will be found why it should not be continued 
for a long period of time. For years, I have made it my practice to 
publicly disclose in the Congressional Record any hold that I place 
along with a short explanation. It is quick, it is easy, and it is 
painless. I want to assure my colleagues of that.
  Our proposed standing order would provide that a simple form be 
filled out, much like we do when we add cosponsors to a bill. Senators 
would have a full 3 session days from placing the hold to submit the 
form. The hold would then be published in the Congressional Record and 
the Senate Calendar. It is just as simple as that.
  This amendment is essentially the same as S. Res. 216 in the 108th 
Congress, which was a collaborative effort between myself, the Senator 
from Iowa, Mr. Wyden, Senator Lott, and Senator Byrd.
  In the last Congress, Chairman Lott held a hearing in the Rules 
Committee on the issue that is before us. Since that time, I have 
worked with Senators Wyden, Lott, and Byrd to come up with what I think 
is a very well thought out proposal to require public disclosure of 
holds on legislation or nominations in the Senate.
  It says a lot that this proposal was written with the help of such 
outstanding Senators as Senator Lott and Senator Byrd. As chairman of 
the Rules Committee and as former majority leader, Senator Lott brings 
valuable perspective and experience. It is also a great honor to be 
able to work on this issue with Senator Byrd, who is also a former 
majority leader and an expert on Senate rules and procedures.
  I can think of no reason a single Senator should be able to kill a 
bill or a nomination in complete secrecy. Despite recent attempts by 
the leadership to curb abuses of holds, the secret hold remains a stain 
on the fabric of the Senate.
  It is time for the whole Senate to consider our proposed standing 
order and speak as a body on this issue. If any Senator believes I am 
misguided in this, I welcome their discussion.
  I have yet to hear a single good reason we should allow secrecy to 
creep into what ought to be a very public legislative process. In fact, 
public discussion on this matter is long overdue. If this practice that 
is in the shadows of legislation is to continue, let us at least say so 
  I can think of no better time to consider this long overdue measure 
than in the context of a bill titled the ``Legislative Transparency and 
Accountability Act.''
  If we don't end this in a bill with this title, we are missing a 
chance that we have been waiting for for 10 years. I thank the chairman 
of the committee for that opportunity. That is why this measure is all 
about transparency and accountability.
  The purpose of the underlying bill is to restore public confidence in 
Congress by making our actions transparent and accountable. Secret 
holds run contrary to both principles. They are done in complete 
secrecy and allow Senators to avoid public accountability for action. 
The underlying bill requires disclosure of earmarks in advance of 
conference negotiations and increased disclosure of trips and 
employment negotiations.
  I ask my colleagues to support the Wyden-Grassley-Inhofe amendment so 
that we can use this one small step to restore confidence and have more 
public accountability.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine.
  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, let me begin by commending the two 
sponsors of this proposal. I know that each of them has worked so hard 
and so long trying to end the practice of secret, indefinite holds 
being put on either nominees or placed on legislation. I believe this 
proposal is consistent with the goal of this legislation which is more 
accountability and more transparency. I commend both of them for their 
  I would like to engage the sponsor of this amendment in a colloquy in 
order to clarify that his proposal is not intended to reach a very 
temporary hold that is placed on a bill in order to allow for review of 
that legislation.
  Let me give a specific example. Occasionally, bills will be 
discharged from their authorizing committees. These are not necessarily 
on the calendar. They are discharged from the committee, and the bill 
will be hotlined on both of our sides to see if there is any objection.
  Obviously, putting a temporary stay on the consideration of a 
discharged bill in order to allow a few hours for review or even a day 
for review is completely different from the practice of secretly 
killing a bill by putting an indefinite anonymous hold.
  I wonder if, through the Chair, I could inquire of the sponsor if it 
is his intention to distinguish between those two situations. I would 
call one a ``consult hold'' perhaps, and one a ``killer hold.''
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, as usual, the distinguished Chair of the 
subcommittee has put her finger on an important distinction. I want to 
take a second to describe how the legislation addresses it. I think we 
are of like mind on it. Subsequently, a lot of time was spent by the 
distinguished chairman of the Rules Committee and Senator Dodd and 
Senator Byrd on this matter.
  What the distinguished Chair of the Homeland Security Committee is 
describing is essentially a consult. For example, a Senator wants to be 
notified about a bill that is headed for the floor. Very often that 
comes up, say, when a Senator is in his or her home State and 
frequently needs to be able to come back, and it takes a day, and they 
need to be able to review it.
  Under the Wyden-Grassley-Inhofe amendment we make very clear it is 
not our intention to bar those consults. We like to use the word 
``consult,'' which is a protected tool for a Senator as opposed to the 
question of a hold.
  I think perhaps another way to clarify it is a consult is sort of 
like a yellow light. You put up a little bit of caution--that we need a 
bit of time to take a look at it. A hold is a red light when you are 
not supposed to go forward. We don't want people to be able to exercise 
those holds in secret. We think it is fine to have the kind of consult 
that the distinguished Chair of the Homeland Security Committee has 
  In fact, to ensure that we have this kind of procedure that the 
Senator seeks, we call for 3 days before an individual has to put in 
the Congressional Record that they have a hold on a matter.
  I think we are clearly in agreement--that the consult is protected, 
but the secret hold and forcing the Senate to do its business in public 
is what is going to change.
  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I very much appreciate the explanation 
and clarification of the sponsor of the amendment. I am in complete 
agreement with the differences that he described. I believe his 
proposal would inject needed transparency and accountability into the 
process, not to mention that I would know who puts those holds on my 
  I hope this proposal will be adopted. I intend to support it.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I rise to support this amendment 
offered by the Senator from Oregon, the Senator from Iowa, and the 
Senator from Oklahoma. I thank them very much for doing it.
  I must say, as I listened to the debate I thought back to the winter 
of 1988 after I was elected to the Senate.
  Incidentally, a distinguished member of that cast was the honorable 
Senator from Mississippi, and we attended the orientation session 
together that winter for new Senators. I remember then Senator Wendell 
Ford from Kentucky came before us to give us instructions about Senate 
  He said: Look, I remember when I was just elected to the Senate. You 
are going to find a lot of things around here that don't make much 
sense to you, but they will over time.
  Then Senator Ford stopped for a moment, and said: Take the seniority 
rule. The longer I am here, the more sense it makes to me.

[[Page S1875]]

  I want to say the longer I am here, the less sense the secret hold 
procedure makes to me. Honestly, it has become increasingly outrageous 
when you think about it--that this body can be stopped by an action 
that is secret, and the source of the action is not known on a measure 
that is on the Senate floor because it came out of a committee. It is 
really outrageous.
  I congratulate Senators Wyden, Grassley, and Inhofe for seizing this 
moment of reform brought about by the reports from the Rules Committee 
and our own Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to 
take this opportunity to get rid of this outdated but really outrageous 
part of Senate procedure.
  If somebody cares enough to hold up a measure and hold up the rest of 
us from considering it on the floor, the least they can do is have the 
guts to reveal their identity.
  That is all this change would bring about.
  I thank my colleagues. I look forward to supporting this amendment.
  I thank the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana.
  Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I defer to the manager of the bill.
  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, is the Senator from Louisiana speaking on 
the same issue? If you would defer, Senator Inhofe has become one of 
the lead cosponsors of this amendment. I think you would probably like 
to be heard in sequence. Then the floor would be open for questions.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, at this point, after the Senator from 
Oklahoma has spoken, it would be my intention to very briefly wrap up 
the case for the Wyden-Grassley-Inhofe amendment. We would yield our 
time at that point, and we are going to ask for a recorded vote.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senate is not currently operating under a 
time agreement.
  Without objection, the Senator from Oklahoma is recognized.
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, first, I was fascinated by the comment 
from the Senator from Connecticut that after a few years some of this 
stuff will make sense to us. I have only been here 20 years. I am a 
patient man; I will wait.
  Let me put this in perspective, as far as my interest in this. Back 
in 1986 I was elected to the House of Representatives. There was a 
procedure that was used at that time called the discharge procedure 
whereby a person could discharge a bill out of the committee without 
having committee action, but it could be blocked by someone and we 
could not know the name of the person who blocked it.
  Consequently, we found ourselves in this situation where there would 
be legislation that everyone at home is very excited about. We could go 
home and campaign and say, yes, I am for this. I remember several of 
the West Texas Democrats wanting to oppose gun control. Yet their 
caucus wanted them to support gun control. So they would tell the 
people at home that they were opposing it. Yet they were the very ones 
who kept it from coming up for a vote.
  That is exactly the same thing we are dealing with here. In 1994 we 
were able to pass that reform. When we came over here in 1994, I was 
not even aware that you could put a hold on a bill without disclosing 
who you were or who was putting the hold on. This is a very similar 
thing. It is transparency, bringing it out in the open.
  I agree with my good friend Senator Wyden that if Members want to, 
they can put a hold on a bill. This does not affect that. Members just 
have to say who they are.
  This morning I had my amendment on the floor and Senator Wyden and 
Senator Grassley showed me their amendment was essentially the same. I 
was very happy to fold mine in. I am happy to be part of this.
  After a number of years now, this will become a reality. I applaud my 
fellow cosponsors for the fine work they have done.
  Let me review how that means of obfuscation worked--this from the 
Congressional Record, page H1131, March 10, 1992:

       A good example is the method Members from the House of 
     Representatives used to hide their votes from the people 
     concerning a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution. 
     Shortly after it was discovered in a USA Today poll in 1987 
     that over 80 percent of the people in America want a 
     balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, House Joint 
     Resolution 268 was introduced. House Joint Resolution 268 
     immediately gained 246 coauthors from over the Nation. I can 
     just envision, at the town hall meetings back home, a liberal 
     Democrat standing up and holding House Joint Resolution 268 
     in his hand saying, ``See here, ladies and gentlemen. This is 
     my name as cosponsor of House Joint Resolution 268.'' What 
     the Congressman didn't tell these people is that he has no 
     intentions of allowing House Joint Resolution 268 to come up 
     for a vote. How does this Congressman, who is trying to make 
     the people back home believe that he is supporting a budget-
     balancing amendment to the Constitution, keep from having to 
     vote on it?
       It is very simple, the Speaker merely puts it in a 
     committee and then makes a deal with the committee chairman 
     not to bring it up for consideration. The only way that it 
     can be brought up for consideration is for a discharge 
     petition to be signed by 218 Members of Congress. The 
     discharge petition is in the Speaker's desk and must be 
     signed during the course of a legislative day. However, the 
     names of those individuals who sign a discharge petition are 
     kept secret and if a Member discloses the names of other 
     Members who sign the discharge petition, he can be 
     disciplined to the extent of expulsion from membership of the 
     House of Representatives. So House Joint Resolution 268 had 
     240 cosponsors, but only 140 Members were willing to sign the 
     discharge petition.
       Pretty cozy, huh? The Congressman can falsely represent his 
     position to the people at home and never have to vote on the 
     issue. I might add that there is a happy ending to that House 
     Joint Resolution 268 story. Several of us contacted a 
     national publication. While the publication knew we couldn't 
     divulge the names of those who signed the discharge petition, 
     they agreed to print the names of the individuals who 
     coauthored House Joint Resolution 268, but did not sign the 
     discharge petition. We found a loophole in the corrupt 
     institutional system that protects Congressmen from their 
     electorate and as a result of that, we were able to 
     immediately force it out onto the floor and we missed passing 
     a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution by only seven 

  That situation disturbed me so much that in March of 1993 I filed a 
one-sentence bill on the House floor challenging the secrecy, ``Once a 
motion to discharge has been filed the Clerk shall make the signatures 
a matter of public record.''
  I had 87 cosponsors, and it passed by a vote of 384 to 40.
  In an article about my initiative, Reader's Digest in November of 
1994 wrote, ``The success of this legislation is proof that when 
Congress is required to do the people's business in the open, the 
people--rather than special interests--win . . . the passage of this 
one bill is an important first step in the right direction. And it took 
a little-known Representative form Oklahoma to point the way.''
  I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record the full text 
of this article.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                 [From the Reader's Digest, Nov. 1994]

 A Story of Democracy and Capitol Hill: How the Trial Lawyers Finally 
                               Met Defeat

                         (By Daniel R. Levine)

       When a twin-engine Cessna airplane crashed near Fallon, 
     Nev., four years ago, the National Transportation Safety 
     Board (NTSB) ruled pilot error was the cause. But that didn't 
     stop lawyers for two of the injured passengers from suing 
     Cessna on the grounds that the seats on the 25-year old plan 
     did not provide adequate support. The seats had been 
     ripped out without Cessna's knowledge and rearranged to 
     face each other. But the lawyers claimed that Cessna 
     should have warned against removing the seats. A jury 
     awarded the two plaintiffs more than $2 million.
       In Compton, Calf., a single-engine airplane nearly stalled 
     on the runway and sputtered loudly during take-off. Less than 
     a minute into the air it crashed, killing two of the three 
     people on board. On July 18, 1989, two days before the one-
     year statue of limitations would expire, the survivor and 
     relatives of the deceased passengers filed a $2.5 million 
     lawsuit naming the plane's manufacturer, Piper Aircraft 
     Corp., as a defendant. Not mentioned in the suit was the fact 
     that the plane, built in 1956, had been sitting at the 
     airport unused and uninspected for 2\1/2\ years. The case, 
     awaiting trial, has already cost Piper $50,000.
       The NTSB found that 203 crashes of Beech aircraft between 
     1989 and 1992 were caused by weather, faulty maintenance, 
     pilot error or air-control mishaps. But trial lawyers blamed 
     the manufacturer and sued each time. Beech was forced to 
     spend an average of $530,000 defending itself in each case 
     and up to $200,000 simply preparing for those that were 

[[Page S1876]]

       Such product-liability lawsuits have forced small-plane 
     makers such as Cessna to carry $25 million a year in 
     liability insurance. In fact, Cessna stopped producing 
     piston-powered planes primarily because of high cost of 
     defending liability lawsuits. Thus, an American industry that 
     15 years ago ruled the world's skies has lost more than 
     100,000 jobs and has seen the number of small planes it 
     manufactured plummet from over 17,000 in 1978 to under 600 
     last year.
       That may all change. Bucking years of intense lobbying by 
     trial lawyers, Congress voted last summer to bar lawsuits 
     against small-plane manufacturers after a plane and its parts 
     have been in service 18 years. The legislation will create an 
     estimated 25,000 aviation jobs within five years as 
     manufacturers retool and increase production.
       This was the first time that Congress has reformed a 
     product-liability law against the wishes of the lawyers who 
     make millions from these cases. And the dramatic victory was 
     made possible because of the efforts of a little-known 
     Congressman from Oklahoma who challenged Capital Hill's 
       On his first day in 1987 as a member of the U.S. House of 
     Representatives, Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.) asked colleague Mike 
     Synar (D., Okla.) how he had compiled such a liberal voting 
     record while winning re-election in a conservative district. 
     Overhearing the question, another longtime Democratic 
     Congressman interjected: ``It's easy. Vote liberal, press-
     release conservative.''
       This was a revealing lesson in Congressional ethics, the 
     first of many that would open Inhofe's eyes to the way 
     Congress really ran. He soon realized that an archaic set of 
     rules enabled members to deceive constituents and avoid 
       When a Congressman introduced a bill, the Speaker of the 
     House refers it to the appropriate committee. Once there, 
     however, the bill is at the mercy of the committee chairman, 
     who represents the views of the Congressional leadership. If 
     he supports the legislation, he can speed it through hearings 
     to the House floor for a vote. Or he can simply ``bury'' it 
     beneath another committee business.
       This arrangement is tailor-made for special-interest 
     lobbies like the Association of Trial Lawyers of America 
     (ATLA). For eight years, bills to limit the legal liability 
     of small-aircraft manufacturers had been referred to the 
     House Judiciary Committee, only to be buried. Little wonder. 
     One of the ATLA's most reliable supporters on Capitol Hill 
     has been Rep. Jack Brooks (D., Texas), powerful chairman of 
     that committee and recipient of regular campaign 
     contributions from ATLA.
       The only way for Congressmen to free bills that chairmen 
     such as Brooks wanted to kill was a procedure called the 
     discharge petition. Under it, a Congressman could dislodge a 
     buried bill if a House majority, 218 members, signed a 
     petition bringing it directly to the floor for a vote. But 
     discharge petitions virtually never succeeded because, since 
     1931, signatures were kept secret from the public. This 
     allowed Congressmen to posture publicly in favor of an issue, 
     then thwart passage of the bill by refusing to sign the 
     discharge petition. At the same time, House leaders could 
     view the petitions, enabling them to pressure signers to 
     remove their names. Of 493 discharge petitions ever filed, 
     only 45 got the numbers of signatures required for a House 
     vote. And only two of those bills became law.
       Inhofe saw the proposals overwhelmingly favored by the 
     American people--the 1990 balanced-budget amendment, school 
     prayer, Congressional term limits, the line-item veto--were 
     bottled up in committee by the House leadership. When 
     discharge petitions to free some of the bills were initiated, 
     they were locked in a drawer in the Clerk's desk on the House 
     floor. The official rules warned that disclosing names ``is 
     strictly prohibited under the precedents of the House.''
       In March 1993, Inhofe filed a one-sentence bill on the 
     House floor challenging the secrecy: ``Once a motion to 
     discharge has been filed the Clerk shall make the signatures 
     a matter of public record.''
       The bill was assigned to the Rules Committee, where it was 
     buried. Three months later, on May 27, Inhofe started a 
     discharge petition to bring the bill to a floor vote. Among 
     those signing was Tim Penny (D., Minn.), a lawmaker who after 
     ten years in the House had grown so disgusted that he had 
     decided not to run for re-election. ``Discharge petitions 
     procedures are symbolic of the manipulative and secretive way 
     decisions are made here,'' said Penny. ``It's just one more 
     example of how House leaders rig the rules to make sure they 
     aren't challenged on the floor.''
       Inhofe, though, was badly outnumbered. The Democrats82-seat 
     majority controlled the flow of legislation. But he was not 
     cowed. From his first years in politics Inhofe had shown an 
     independent streak--and it had paid off. After initially 
     losing elections for governor and Congress, He was elected to 
     three consecutive terms as mayor of Tulsa, beginning in 1977. 
     In 1986, he ran again for the Congress and won. Four years 
     later, he bucked his own President, George Bush, by voting 
     against a 1991 budget ``compromise'' that included a $156-
     billion tax hike.
       By August 4, two months after filing his discharge 
     petition, Inhofe had 200 signatures, just 18 shy of the 218 
     need to force his bill to the floor, but the House leadership 
     was using all its muscle to thwart him. On the House floor, 
     Inhofe announced: ``I am disclosing to The Wall Street 
     Journal the names of all members who have not signed the 
     discharge petition. People deserve to know what is going on 
     in this place.''
       It was a risk. House leaders could make him pay for this 
     deed. But by making public the names of non-signers, he would 
     avoid a direct violation of House rules. Inhofe collected the 
     names by asking every member who signed the petition to 
     memorize as many other signatures as possible.
       The next day, The Wall Street Journal ran the first of six 
     editorials on the subject. Titled ``Congress's Secret 
     Drawer,'' it accused Congressional leaders of using 
     discharge-petition secrecy to ``protect each other and keep 
     constituents in the dark.''
       On the morning of August 6, Inhofe was within a handful of 
     the 218 signatures. As the day wore on, more members came 
     forward to sign. With two hours to go before the August 
     recess, the magic number of 218 was within his grasp.
       What happened next stunned Inhofe. Two of the most powerful 
     members of Congress--Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman 
     John Dingell (D., Mich.) and Rules Committee Chairman Joseph 
     Moakley (D., Mass.)--moved next to him at the discharge 
     petition desk. In a display one witness described as 
     political ``trench warfare,'' the two began ``convincing'' 
     members to remove their names from the petition.
       Standing near the desk was Rep. James Moran (D., Va.). 
     Moakley warned him that if Inhofe succeeded, members would be 
     forced to vote on controversial bills. ``Jim,'' he said 
     sternly, ``I don't have to tell you how dangerous that would 
     be.'' When the dust settled, Moran and five colleagues--
     Robert Borski (D., Pa.), Bill Brewster (D., Okla.), Bob 
     Clement (D., Tenn.), Glenn English (D., Okla.) and Tony Hall 
     (D., Ohio)--had erased their names.
       Still refusing to quit, Inhofe faxed the first Wall Street 
     Journal editorial to hundreds of radio stations. Before long, 
     he found himself on call-in programs virtually every day of 
     the week.
       When The Wall Street Journal printed the names of the 
     nonsigners on August 17, House members home for the summer 
     recess could not avoid the public outcry Inhofe had 
     generated. With scandals in the House bank, post office and 
     restaurant still fresh in their minds, voters were 
     demanding openness.
       Feeling outgunned, Moakley allowed his Democratic 
     colleagues to sign the discharge petition. When Rep. Marjorie 
     Margolies-Mezvinsky (D., Pa.) affixed her name to the 
     petition on September 8, she became the 218th Signatory.
       Inhofe's bill won overwhelming approval on the final vote, 
     384-40. Even though most Democrats had not supported him, 209 
     now voted with Inhofe. Groused Dingell: ``I think the whole 
     thing stinks.''
       The first real test of Inhofe's change came last May when 
     Representatives Dan Glickman (D., Kan.) and James Hansen (R., 
     Utah) filed a discharge petition to free their bill limiting 
     small-plane manufacturer liability. Even though it was co-
     sponsored by 305 members, the bill had been bottled up in the 
     Judiciary Committee for nine months. But because members' 
     signatures would now be public, voters would finally know who 
     truly stood for product-liability reform and who did not.
       Meanwhile, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America was 
     pulling out all the stops to kill the bill. Members 
     personally lobbied Congressmen and orchestrated a ``grass-
     roots'' letter-writing campaign in which prominent trial 
     attorneys urged their Representatives not to support the 
     bill. ATLA even fired off a maximum-allowable contribution of 
     $5,000 to Representative Hansen's opponent in the November 
       The pressure didn't work. Within two weeks 185 members had 
     signed, and House leaders realized it would be impossible to 
     stop the petition. Their only how was to offer a compromise 
     version. In mid-June, Brooks reported out of committee a bill 
     that differed only slightly from the original. On August 2, 
     the Senate approved similar legislation. The next day the 
     bill cleared the House without dissent. On August 17, 
     President Clinton signed it into law.
       Glickman, whose Wichita district is home to Cessna and 
     Beech aircraft companies, said the procedural change 
     spearheaded by Inhofe was crucial to victory. ``A lot of 
     forces did not want this bill to go forward,'' he continued, 
     ``and it would not have succeeded without the discharge 
       The success of this legislation is proof that when Congress 
     is required to do the people's business in the open, the 
     people--rather than special interests--win. The high cost of 
     product-liability lawsuits, to manufacturers as well as 
     consumer, will require far more sweeping reform of the tort 
     system. But the passage of this one bill is an important 
     first step in the right direction. And it took a little-known 
     Representative from Oklahoma to point the way.

  Mr. INHOFE. The situation is exactly the same here, Mr. President.
  In fact, the very stated reason for this whole bill is to require 
Congress to do the people's business in the open.
  A Senator may have a hold on a nomination or a bill or a unanimous 
consent agreement, and that hold is secret.
  It is just as possible for a Senator to keep his constituents and 
Americans in general in the dark now about their holds as it was for 
House Members before I successfully led the charge for transparency in 
discharge petitions.

[[Page S1877]]

  Indeed the Wall Street Journal was strongly in favor of my House 
efforts at that time.
  Toward that end, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the 
Record the Wall Street Journal's six editorials on the issue of 
discharge motions.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

             [From the Wall Street Journal, Sept. 30, 1993]

                           Real House Reform

       On his first day in office in 1987, Rep. Jim Inhofe asked a 
     fellow Oklahoma Member how he could be so liberal and keep 
     getting elected in a conservative state. A third Congressman 
     interrupted: ``It's easy. Vote liberal. Press release 
       Rep. Inhofe took a big step toward ending such hypocrisy 
     Tuesday, when Congress voted 384 to 40 for his proposal to 
     end the secrecy of discharge petitions. Constituents will now 
     know who's signed up for the procedures necessary to 
     discharge a bill from committee and force a vote; Members 
     will no longer be able to posture one way and act another on 
     bills popular with the public but unpopular with fellow 
     legislators. Rep. Inhofe's overwhelming majority, after the 
     difficulty he had signing up 218 Members to discharge his own 
     proposal, is itself testimony to the difference between 
     smoke-filled rooms and the light of day.
       At least the 40 opponents, whose names appear below, were 
     willing to stand up and be counted in favor of secrecy. ``I 
     think the whole thing stinks,'' declared Rep. John Dingell, 
     much-feared chairman of the House Energy and Commerce 
     Committee. General Dingell warned that reform ``means you 
     lay the basis for the entire bypassing of the committee 
     system.'' House Rules Committee Chairman Joe Moakley 
     railed against an ``aroused and enraged'' public that is 
     ``virtually impossible to engage in reasonable and 
     thoughtful debate.''
       Watching Jim Wright's departure, the Keating Five scandals, 
     the House Bank and Post Office, much of the public doubts 
     that such debate is what goes on in Capitol corridors. 
     Indeed, it thinks it has some right to be aroused and 
     enraged. And when Congress routinely exempts itself from 
     rules it imposes on the rest of society, much of the public 
     thinks that something needs to be bypassed. So it's entirely 
     appropriate that this major reform of House rules be forced 
     on Congress by popular outcry.
       The ideological bent of this outcry is also noteworthy. As 
     the 40 holdouts show, the drive to make Members accountable 
     was certainly not led by the liberals who have long thought 
     themselves the font of ``reform.'' We on this page were glad 
     to have played our part, and are equally glad to credit Rush 
     Limbaugh's broadcasts and the efforts of Ross Perot, whose 
     supporters held all-night vigils in front of Congressional 
       We would also note, though, the lack of interest from a 
     press that holds itself devoted to ``the public's right to 
     know.'' For a month after Rep. Inhofe's August 4 announcement 
     that he would publicize the names of Members who refused to 
     end secret discharge petitions, no network or other major 
     newspaper mentioned his crusade. Only after public agitation 
     forced a House majority to back Mr. Inhofe did our colleagues 
     at the New York Times and the Washington Post address the 
     issue. The Post noted that ``in a democracy, where elected 
     officials have an obligation to be candid and accountable, 
     there is no reasonable argument against this change.'' We're 
     grateful for the support, but wonder if they'd have joined 
     the battle before it was won had it been led by, say, Ralph 
       It's also intriguing that secrecy was supported by Beltway 
     ``academics.'' Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein complained we 
     had created ``a wildly inaccurate portrayal of Congress as a 
     closed, secretive institution dominated by committees and 
     party barons and unresponsive to popular sentiment.'' We 
     refer them to the respected Members now departing in disgust. 
     Rep. Tim Penny, the retiring Minnesota Democrat, says it took 
     him ``only six months in Congress to realize this place 
     doesn't operate on the level.'' In particular, he says, many 
     Democrats are themselves upset that House leaders ``rig the 
     rules to make sure they aren't challenged on the floor.''
       To the Members, the academics and the press we say this: 
     Welcome to the age of instant communications. We doubt that 
     the discharge petition reform will be the last reform. In 
     particular, some 75% of the American people support 
     limitations on Congressional terms. Last week, after it 
     became clear that discharge petitions would be made public, 
     five Members signed the petition to discharge term limit 
     legislation. While defenders of Congressional secrecy predict 
     untoward and chaotic results, we trust the public a lot more 
     than we trust the Members.
       In 1867, the British Parliament passed the Second Reform 
     Act, sponsored not so incidentally by Disraeli's 
     conservatives. It gave the vote to the likes of rent-payers, 
     and upon passage the Viscount Sherbrooke advised fellow 
     parliamentarians to ``prevail on our future masters to learn 
     their letters.'' In the popularized version this became, ``We 
     must educate our masters.'' If the John Dingells and Joe 
     Moakleys are really worried not about their own prerogatives 
     but the future of the republic, they would be well-advised to 
     adopt the constructive attitude affirmed by Viscount 
       The 40 House Members who on Sept. 28 voted in favor of 
     secrecy on discharge petitions:
       Neil Abercrombie (D., Hawaii) Sanford Bishop (D., Ga.) Jack 
     Brooks (D., Texas) Corrine Brown (D., Fla.) Bill Clay (D., 
     Mo.) Eva Clayton (D., N.C.) B.R. Collins (D., Mich.) Cardiss 
     Collins (D., Ill.) Buddy Darden (D., Ga.) John Dingell (D., 
     Mich.) Don Edwards (D., Ca.) Vic Fazio (D., Ca.) Floyd Flake 
     (D., N.Y.) William Ford (D., Mich.) Henry Gonzalez (D., 
     Texas) Earl Hillard (D., Ala.) Ron Kink (D., Pa.) John Lewis 
     (D., Ga.) Ron Mazzoli (D., Ky.) Cynthia McKinney (D., Ga.) 
     Carrie Meek (D., Fla.) Joe Moakley (D., Mass.) Alan Mollohan 
     ( D., W. Va.) John Murtha (D., Pa.) Donald Payne (D., N.J.) 
     Nancy Pelosi (D., Ca.) J.J. Pickle (D., Texas) Charles Rangel 
     (D., N.Y.) Lucille Roybal-Allard (D., Ca.) Bobby Rush (D., 
     Ill.) Martin Olav Sabo (D., Minn.) Neal Smith (D., Iowa) Pete 
     Stark (D., Ca.) Esteban Torres (D., Ca.) Jolene Unsoeld (D., 
     Wash.) Nydia Velazquez (D., N.Y.) Peter Visclosky (D., Ind.) 
     Craig Washington (D., Texas) Mel Watt (D., N.C.) Sidney Yates 
     (D., Ill.)

             [From the Wall Street Journal, Sept. 20, 1993]

                           Hands Off Inhofe!

       When Rep. Jim Inhofe mobilized public opinion and forced 
     House leaders to allow a September 27 floor vote on his bill 
     to end secret discharge petitions, he knew they might try to 
     undermine him. Sure enough, there are signs that the 
     leadership hopes to placate the public by accepting Mr. 
     Inhofe's secrecy bill but then sneak through House-Rule 
     changes that would gut his reform. Should they try this 
     stunt, Members better be ready to take some real heat from 
       Only hours after Mr. Inhofe's first-round victory on 
     September 8, House Rules Committee Chairman Joe Moakley said 
     he planned an ``alternative'' to Mr. Inhofe's bill. No doubt 
     it would pay lip service to reform while it retains the 
     system that lets Congressional barons make certain that 
     popular bills never see the light of day.
       House leaders may try to require that two-thirds of the 
     Members sign any discharge petition to bring a bill to the 
     floor, rather than a simple majority. Since less than 10% of 
     discharge petitions now reach the House floor, such 
     a ``reform'' would kill any chance of freeing popular 
     bills bottled up in committee. Exhibit A: Even though 75% 
     of voters and more than 100 Members favor term limits, 
     Speaker Tom Foley hasn't even allowed a committee hearing 
     on the issue.
       The Rules Committee met last week to discuss altering the 
     Inhofe reform. It was suggested that successful discharge 
     petitions merely require a committee to hold hearings on a 
     bill. A floor vote would be mandated only if a committee 
     refused to take any action. But, according to the newspaper 
     Roll Call, House leaders rejected even that move. They fear 
     they'll lose iron control of the legislative process if a 
     majority of Members have a realistic way of bringing bills to 
     the floor.
       The hearings then became a platform for Members to vent 
     their frustration with Mr. Inhofe's success at exposing the 
     gag rule that kept names on a discharge petition secret. Rep. 
     James Oberstar of Minnesota came to denounce Mr. Inhofe, but 
     ended up scoring points for him. He called Mr. Inhofe's 
     sunshine law a ``gimmick.'' However, he conceded that if 
     Democrats ``were in the minority, we'd probably be doing the 
     same.'' He also admitted that many Members introduce bills 
     only to get ``special interests off their backs.''
       Mr. Inhofe says Mr. Oberstar's admission proves that secret 
     discharge petitions allow Members to say one thing at home 
     and then do something else in Washington. ``Standing up to 
     special interests is part of the job,'' he says. ``If you 
     can't, step aside and let someone who can serve.''
       Rep. Inhofe says his battle to end secrecy has also 
     demonstrated the stranglehold that committee chairmen now 
     exercise over legislation. Before the August recess, Mr. 
     Inhofe's antisecrecy petition was only one signature short of 
     the needed majority. Then Chairman Moakley ``convinced'' six 
     Members to remove their names, forcing Rep. Inhofe to take 
     his case to the American people.
       Virginia Democrat James Moran candidly explained why he 
     dropped off: ``When the chairman of the Rules Committee asks 
     me to do something and it's not in conflict with my 
     conscience, I think my ability to serve my district is 
     enhanced when I say yes.'' Mr. Moran then noted how powerful 
     Chairman Moakley is.
       Thomas Mann, a Congressional scholar at the Brookings 
     Institution, opposes the Inhofe reform, but he advised the 
     Rules Committee not to amend it. ``That will only inflame the 
     public further,'' he told us. He noted that if problems 
     develop, the majority party will then have a good reason to 
     push for modifications. In short, the House should have 
     cleaned up its act years ago. Now the voters are going to do 
     it for them.

             [From the Wall Street Journal, Aug. 25, 1993]

                       Asides: Discharge Rumbles

       Some House Members have complained that we listed their 
     names among the 223 Members who haven't joined Rep. Jim 
     Inhofe's effort to end secret discharge petitions. Speaking 
     for the non-signers in today's letters column, Rules 

[[Page S1878]]

     Chairman Joe Moakley claims that ending secrecy would mean 
     more power for lobbyists and special interests (see related 
     letter: ``Letters to the Editor: Why Make It Easier For 
     Special Interests?''--WSJ Aug. 25, 1993). We'd have thought 
     that taking a stand against such forces came with the job. We 
     suspect that Mr. Moakley is fundamentally worried that his 
     Rules panel would lose its hammerlock on bills. Some Members 
     aren't listening to him. Democrats David Mann of Ohio and 
     Barney Frank of Massachusetts have told constituents recently 
     that they favor ending the secrecy rule. Rep. Frank says the 
     issue is simply about whether House Members support open 
     government. Three more Members will give Rep. Inhofe the 
     majority that he needs to let some sunshine into Congress.

             [From the Wall Street Journal, Aug. 19, 1993]

                        Asides: Discharge Charge

       Rep. Jim Inhofe's effort to end secret discharge petitions, 
     which allow Members to publicly claim support for a bill 
     while privately working for its defeat, is attracting some 
     big-name boosters. Rush Limbaugh alerted his listeners to our 
     publication this week of the list of 223 Members who refused 
     to join Mr. Inhofe's effort. The 50 state directors of Ross 
     Perot's organization have been asked to make discharge 
     petition reform ``a high priority.'' Mr. Perot himself will 
     discuss the subject on C-SPAN tonight at 8 p.m., EDT. 
     Outraged voters are already making an impact. Rep. Karen 
     Thurman, a first-term Florida Democrat, faxed Mr. Inhofe 
     yesterday to say she will now sign up. By the way, through a 
     production error Rep. Dave McCurdy of Oklahoma was omitted 
     from the list we published. His office confirms he is not 
     supporting Rep. Inhofe.

              [From the Wall Street Journal, Aug. 9, 1993]

                        Asides: House Enforcers

       House leaders could scarcely miss the danger Rep. Jim 
     Inhofe posed to them with his effort to end secret discharge 
     petitions, described in our editorial last week. Why, making 
     public the now-secret list of members calling for floor votes 
     on bills held by the Rules Committee would let constituents 
     check up on members. Leaders couldn't bottle up popular 
       On Friday, Rep. Inhofe had 208 of the 218 signatures needed 
     on a discharge petition for his own proposal to end this 
     hypocrisy. Then C-SPAN viewers saw House Committee Chairmen 
     Joe Moakley and John Dingell park themselves near the desk 
     where the petition is kept, where they ``persuaded'' several 
     Members to remove their names. We still plan to publish the 
     names of those Members who favor secrecy over open 
     government, and maybe constituents can do a little persuading 
     of their own.

              [From the Wall Street Journal, Aug. 5, 1993]

                        Congress's Secret Drawer

       The ongoing drama in the Capitol makes it clearer than ever 
     that Congress can't control either itself or its budget. A 
     large part of the problem is procedure, an arcane set of 
     rules evolved over the years to let Congresspersons protect 
     each other and keep constituents in the dark. Rep. Jim Inhofe 
     has launched a campaign against the keystone of these rules, 
     the veil of secrecy covering a device called the discharge 
       It works like this: The House conspires to bottle up in 
     committee all the bills that are popular in the country but 
     unpopular on Capitol Hill--balancing the budget or limiting 
     terms, for example. The Rules Committee is particularly 
     crucial, as it was in shelving civil rights bills in the 
     1950s. The Rules Committee simply sits on a bill, allowing 
     members to posture in public in support while never having to 
     vote on it, much less enact it.
       The discharge petition is supposed to serve as a 
     protection; a bill can be forced onto the floor if a majority 
     of Members sign a petition. But that rarely succeeds, because 
     until the required number of 218 is reached, the list of 
     signers is kept strictly secret. So Members can still posture 
     in public and effectively vote the other way in secret, even 
     co-sponsoring a bill but refusing to sign its discharge 
     petition. Worse, only House leaders know who has signed, and 
     when a petition nears 218 they can pressure the most pliable 
     members to drop off.
       Discharge petition procedures have the flavor of a covert 
     brotherhood rather than a representative body. Petitions are 
     kept locked in a drawer at the clerk's desk. The drawer can 
     only be opened during a House session and only a signing 
     Member can see a petition. Members cannot take any notes, and 
     can't even bring their own pens to the desk. They must read a 
     statement signed by the Speaker noting that disclosing any 
     names on the petition is ``strictly prohibited under the 
     precedents of the House,'' a prohibition imposed in 1931 
     by Speaker John Nance Garner, but never made part of House 
     Rules. Violators face disciplinary action, up to and 
     including expulsion.
       Rep. Inhofe was granted floor time last night to dare House 
     leaders to carry out this threat. Mr. Inhofe filed a bill to 
     require that signatures on a discharge petition be made 
     public, and it was promptly assigned to the Rules Committee 
     for burial. So he started a discharge petition to bring it to 
     the floor, and quietly asked each signer to memorize other 
     names on the list; by now he's painstakingly assembled a list 
     of 200 signers, only 18 short of a majority. He revealed last 
     night that he will disclose the names of all Members who have 
     not signed the petition, and is ready to face any 
     disciplinary action against him.
       As a public service, we've agreed to print his list as 
     Congress leaves Washington to visit its home constituencies. 
     Watch this space to learn if your Congressperson wants 
     secrecy or openness in government. Of course, Members not on 
     Mr. Inhofe's petition can sign up for openness before leaving 
     town. As he advised his colleagues last night: ``It's just 
     one short trip to the secret drawer to sign discharge 
     petition No. 2. Take a friend.''

  After all was said and done, the Wall Street Journal noted, ``Members 
will no longer be able to posture one way and act another on bills 
popular with the public but unpopular with fellow legislators . . . 
While defenders of Congressional secrecy predict untoward and chaotic 
results, we trust the public a lot more than we trust the Members.''
  Mr. President, that is again exactly what I am talking about here in 
this parallel instance.
  I want to very strongly note that the Wall Street Journal is in favor 
of eliminating the secrecy of Senate holds at this time.
  Toward that end, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the 
Record this Wall Street Journal editorial that endorses the concept of 
eliminating secret holds, assuming no one puts an anonymous hold on 
this unanimous consent request:
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

             [From the Wall Street Journal, Apr. 29, 2005]

 Advise and Consign--The Filibuster Isn't the Only Procedure Senators 
                              Are Abusing

       With a showdown looming over the filibuster of judicial 
     nominees, now is the time to point out another abuse of the 
     Senate's ``advise and consent'' power. It's called the 
     ``hold,'' whereby an individual Senator can delay 
     indefinitely a Presidential nomination, and it is seriously 
     interfering with the operation of the executive branch.
       Call it every Senator's personal ``nuclear option.'' If he 
     doesn't like a nominee or, more likely, doesn't like a policy 
     of the agency to which the nominee is headed, all he has to 
     do is inform his party leader that he is placing a hold on 
     the nomination. Oh--and he can do so secretly, without 
     releasing his name or a reason.
       Like the filibuster, the hold appears nowhere in the 
     Constitution but has evolved as Senators accrete more power 
     to themselves. Senate rules say nothing about holds, which 
     started out as a courtesy for Members who couldn't be present 
     at votes. Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden has said holds are ``a 
     lot like the seventh-inning stretch in baseball. There is no 
     official rule or regulation that talks about it, but it has 
     been observed for so long that it has become a tradition.''
       Also like the filibuster--which was never intended to block 
     judicial nominees from getting a floor vote--the hold is 
     being abused by a willful minority of Senators. This being a 
     Republican Administration, Democrats in particular are using 
     it now to hamstring or stop its ability to govern. There's no 
     formal list of holds, but the current batch may well be 
     unprecedented both in number and degree. Here's our 
     unofficial list:
       Rob Portman, U.S. Trade Representative. The Senate Finance 
     Committee unanimously backed the former Congressman this 
     week. But don't expect a floor vote soon. Indiana Democrat 
     Evan Bayh has placed a hold on his nomination in hopes of 
     forcing a vote on a protectionist bill he favors on trade 
     with China. (Think AFL-CIO and the 2008 Presidential 
     nomination.) Meanwhile, it looks like Mr. Portman will miss a 
     high-level meeting next week in Paris to jump-start trade 
       Stephen Johnson, head of the Environmental Protection 
     Agency. Senator Tom Carper says Mr. Johnson ``is qualified to 
     head the EPA and would serve the agency well.'' Yet the 
     Delaware Democrat placed a hold on him over a dispute 
     regarding the Administration's Clear Skies program, 
     regulating pollutants in the air. Mr. Johnson dodged an 
     earlier bullet when California Democrat Barbara Boxer 
     threatened a hold unless the EPA canceled a study of infants' 
     exposure to home pesticides. Mr. Johnson, who is acting EPA 
     head, canceled the program.
       Lester Crawford, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner. 
     The sticking point here is Plan B, aka the morning-after 
     pill. Democrats Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray want Plan B 
     sold over the counter and say that the agency is stalling. 
     They say they won't lift their hold until the FDA makes a 
       Tim Adams, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International 
     Affairs. The person in this position is responsible for, 
     among other critical issues, the Chinese yuan and the World 
     Bank. But Democrat Max Baucus has higher priorities--
     namely, trade with Cuba. He objects to a legal ruling by 
     an obscure arm of the Treasury that requires advance 
     payment by Havana for purchases of U.S. agricultural 
     products such as grain from the Senator's home state of 
     Montana. There are six more Treasury positions open--
     including those responsible for tax policy, Fannie Mae

[[Page S1879]]

     and terrorist financing. Mr. Baucus promises holds on all 
     of them. The Senator realizes he can't win a vote in 
     Congress on his Cuba problem, so he's resorting to this 
     nomination extortion.
       Defense Department. Where to begin? With a war on, you'd 
     think Senators would want to keep the Pentagon fully staffed. 
     But John McCain, angry over the Air Force's tanker-leasing 
     deal with Boeing, last year put holds on numerous Defense 
     nominees, including two candidates for Army Secretary, the 
     comptroller and the assistant secretary for public affairs, 
     the long-serving Larry DiRita. Now that Mr. McCain's personal 
     punching bag, Air Force Secretary Jim Roche, has left the 
     Pentagon, the Arizona Republican has calmed down--though not 
     enough to lift his hold on Michael Wynne as Undersecretary 
     for Acquisition. President Bush gave Mr. Wynne a recess 
     appointment last month.
       Meanwhile, Democrat Carl Levin has a hold on Peter Flory, 
     who was nominated almost a year ago as Assistant Secretary 
     for International Security Policy. Mr. Flory has the 
     misfortune to work for Undersecretary Douglas Feith, whom 
     Senator Levin has pursued like Ahab chasing Moby Dick. So Mr. 
     Flory gets harpooned, too.
       Until Wednesday, John Paul Woodly was blocked as Assistant 
     Secretary of the Army for Civil Works by Alabama's two 
     Republican Senators. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby said 
     Washington favored Georgia in a decade-long dispute over 
     water rights. (We're not making this up.) And in March, 
     Mississippi Republican Trent Lott placed a hold on the 
     chairman of the Base Closing Commission, which he feared 
     might shut a military facility in his home state. The 
     President again had to use recess appointments to name all 
     nine members in April.
       Once upon a time in America, such policy disputes were 
     settled in elections or with votes in Congress. But in 
     today's permanent political combat, Senators wage guerrilla 
     warfare against the executive. No wonder so few talented 
     people want to work in Washington. Senator Wyden and 
     Republican Charles Grassley plan to re-introduce legislation 
     next month to kill holds that are secret. Better yet would be 
     to get rid of all Senate holds.

  Mr. INHOFE. As the Wall Street Journal mentions, neither the 
Constitution nor the Senate Rules mention holds. We need this 
legislation to correct the current situation.
  One of the many times I personally have run into this problem of 
holds was in the case of the nomination of Governor Mike Leavitt of 
Utah to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
  As chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee I 
was trying to shepherd the nomination of Governor Leavitt through my 
  At that time in 2003, Governor Leavitt was being run through 
unprecedented hoops by the Democrats to obstruct his nomination even 
though we had an affirmative statement from my Ranking Member Senator 
Jeffords that he considered Governor Leavitt a friend and admission 
that he was going to receive the vote of Senator Jeffords.
  Pursuant to this situation, Roll Call wrote the following piece that 
I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                     [From Roll Call, Oct. 6, 2003]

                    Inhofe Considers Rules Amendment

                           (By Mark Preston)

       Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe (R-
     Okla.) is considering asking his Senate colleagues to amend 
     chamber rules to terminate the minority party's ability to 
     block committees from reporting out legislation and 
       Such a measure would impose uniform guidelines on how the 
     Senate's 19 standing committees and lone special panel 
       ``I am going to have to look to see what can be done, 
     because the Democrats could effectively shut down the 
     government altogether,'' Inhofe said.
       The EPW chairman's contemplation of a new rule was sparked 
     by committee Democrats' successful effort last week to delay 
     a vote on Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt's (R) nomination to head the 
     Environmental Protection Agency. Democrats charge that 
     Leavitt has failed so far to adequately answer their written 
     questions posed to him, and therefore boycotted the hearing.
       Inhofe is likely to face stiff opposition if he pursues a 
     change in the rules, which would require 67 votes on the 
     Senate floor.
       ``I am not in favor of changing the rules much,'' said Sen. 
     Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), a staunch defender of Senate 
     tradition. ``The rules have been here for a long time and 
     they are the product of decades of experience.''
       Currently, each committee adopts its own rules of procedure 
     at the outset of every Congress. EPW rules require that at 
     least two members from the minority party be present for a 
     nominee to be reported out of committee. Democrats took 
     advantage of that stipulation by not attending the Leavitt 
     hearing and thereby preventing Inhofe from holding a vote on 
     the nomination.
       ``I think we may have to change the rules in the Senate in 
     terms of how committees operate because they say you can't 
     conduct business unless you have members of both sides'' 
     present, Inhofe said. ``What they did [Wednesday] is far 
     worse than stopping a guy's confirmation. It goes to the 
     whole heart of how the committee system works.''
       Even though EPW requires at least two minority party 
     representatives to be present to take action, other 
     committees have less stringent rules. For example, the 
     Finance Committee requires that a quorum include at least one 
     member from each party to be present when the full committee 
     votes on a bill or a nomination. And the Rules and 
     Administration Committee requires that a majority of panel 
     members be present to vote on legislation or a nominee, but 
     does not stipulate that a member from either the majority or 
     minority be present when such an action is taken.
       Inhofe said he is also interested in amending the rule that 
     allows committees to only meet for two hours after the Senate 
     gavels into session unless both parties agree--on a daily 
     basis--to waive it. In recent years, this unanimous consent 
     agreement has been rejected by several Senators for various 
       ``One party can stop government completely, and I don't 
     think that was certainly the intent of those people who made 
     the rules to start with,'' the Oklahoma Republican said.
       Inhofe's proposals for adding to and altering the current 
     rules are just two among a handful of reforms that 
     Republicans have been championing since taking over the 
     majority earlier this year.
       ``The Senate Republican majority is going to have to look 
     at a number of them,'' Rules Chairman Trent Lott (R-Miss.) 
     said of potential changes. ``I do think our rules have not 
     been seriously considered in quite some time.
       ``We need to take a look at the way the Senate functions,'' 
     Lott added.
       One rules change is currently waiting action by the full 
     Senate. Lott's panel approved a measure in June that would 
     end the use of a filibuster to stop a nomination. All 10 
     Republicans on the panel voted to report the bill out of 
     committee, but it still needs the backing of 67 Senators on 
     the Senate floor for it to be enacted. Democrats on the Rules 
     panel did not attend the June 24 hearing and have vowed to 
     prevent the rule change from passing on the floor.
       Republicans are seeking this change to stop Democrats from 
     blocking President Bush's judicial nominees. Already, one of 
     Bush's picks for a seat on the appellate court has withdrawn 
     his name because Democrats refused to allow a vote on his 
     nomination. Currently, Democrats are blocking two other 
     judicial nominees and have pledged to block U.S. District 
     Judge Charles Pickering's nomination to the appeals court.
       The disagreement over judges has added to the partisanship 
     in the traditionally collegial Senate.
       ``I think the judge issue is poisoning the well around here 
     and it is unfortunate,'' said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH). ``It 
     has never happened before this filibuster on the judges at 
     this level, and that has created frustration.''
       But Democrats contend Bush is to blame for the judicial 
     filibusters, because he refuses to work with Democrats to 
     pick candidates acceptable to both political parties.
       ``I would like to point out, when people are opposed to 
     some of these nominees, don't look at the Senators, ask the 
     guy who sent the nominees,'' said Judiciary ranking member 
     Patrick Leahy (D-VT). ``That is part of the problem. The 
     White House doesn't make an effort to really work with 
       Another rules change advocated by several Senators is one 
     ending the use of an anonymous ``hold.'' A hold is a tactic 
     used by a Senator to stop a nomination or a bill the lawmaker 
     opposes, or often to gain leverage on another issue.
       It is a huge problem for the leaders,'' Lott said of the 
     use of secret holds. And Lott, a former Majority Leader, 
     warned that Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Minority 
     Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) will experience the ``devastating'' 
     consequences of this practice when the two leaders try to 
     wrap up legislative business for the year.
       They are fixing to find out the last week we are here they 
     are going to say, `The hold is a really bad creation,' '' 
     Lott said. ``I know it, but they have got to see it. That is 
     when conferences are coming through, and that is when bills 
     need to move.''
       As for the Leavitt nomination, Inhofe has scheduled three 
     consecutive meetings beginning Oct. 15 in which a vote on the 
     Utah governor's nomination could occur. But it is unclear 
     what action Democrats will take.
       ``He hasn't answered our questions,'' said Sen. Barbara 
     Boxer (D-CA). ``So if we get the answers to our questions 
     from Leavitt that is a different circumstance.''
       ``Let's see how he answers our questions,'' she added.
       Inhofe could change his panel's rules to allow him to 
     report Leavitt out of the committee, but he would still need 
     two Democrats present to take a formal vote on the change.

  Mr. INHOFE. You can see from roll-call's reporting that no matter 
what I achieved in my committee, an anonymous hold could always be 
placed on the President's nomination, and thus a

[[Page S1880]]

halt could be brought to operations of the Senate and in turn the 
  The American people do not want obstruction; they want progress from 
  Obstruction was certainly practiced by Senator Daschle, and the 
people showed their lack of appreciation at the ballot box.
  I ask that Members join me in this effort and do what our 
constituents want for the sake of transparency and honesty.
  We ought to have the courage to stand up for our convictions, not 
hide in the shadows of darkness and anonymity.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, it is my intent at this point to wrap up.
  I particularly thank the distinguished Senator from Oklahoma, who has 
had a longstanding interest in this subject, for working with Senator 
Grassley and myself. We do have a bipartisan effort.
  The Senator from Oklahoma has highlighted another problem with it, 
and a lot of Members who served in the other body bumped into this. A 
lot of these holds over the years have not even been placed by Senators 
themselves. They have been placed by staff, and Senators go up to each 
other and try to ask about a matter and it ends up a Senator may not 
even know about it.
  I also see the Senator from Mississippi, the distinguished chairman 
of the Committee on Rules. He spent a lot of hours with me talking 
about this over the years. Senator Lott, to show his commitment to the 
cause of openness, has tried repeatedly to get Senators to do this 
voluntarily. I recall on a number of instances Senator Lott and Senator 
Daschle met with Senator Grassley and me. We put together a variety of 
letters and directives to Senators. It still would not come together.
  We think you have to make this a permanent change in the Senate 
procedures, put the burden on the objector rather than on the 
leadership, as we have done so often in the past, and the leaders would 
then have to make phone calls. Senator Lott has a wonderful story that 
he has told me over the years about sitting in phone booths at airports 
calling Members, trying to figure out who in the world had a hold on 
  I say to colleagues, we have now reached that moment where the Senate 
has had it up to here with all of the secrecy and practice of doing 
business in the shadows.
  To wrap this up, we are going to have a vote in a few minutes. The 
Intelligence Authorization bill, a bill that is vital to America's 
national security, is subject to a secret hold. I don't think anything 
could make the case for our bipartisan amendment more clearly than the 
need to move ahead with this country's vital business in intelligence. 
I have talked to Chairman Roberts about this. He wants that bill to 
move. It is a bipartisan bill. We have not had a situation since 1978 
when we could not move forward on an intelligence bill.
  I hope colleagues will finally bring the Senate into the sunshine. 
This enormous power that each Senator has is one that will continue, 
but if we can prevail on this vote, it will be one that will be 
exercised in the sunlight. Each Senator will be held accountable when 
they assert this particular power.
  I urge my colleagues to vote yes on the Wyden-Grassley-Inhofe 
  I yield back the balance of my time and I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There is a sufficient second.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The Senator from Mississippi.
  Mr. LOTT. Let me clear up one point. I am not sure we are ready to go 
to a recorded vote at this moment. I thought maybe we could set it 
aside and go to other amendments and have stacked votes later in the 
afternoon, allowing Senators to continue committee meetings. However, I 
have been notified that maybe someone would object to a unanimous 
consent to set it aside so I sent a message back to that Senator: if 
you want to object, you better come over here. That is a problem around 
here. We send our surrogates over to object, but they are not here. If 
he comes, he can object. That is fine. We will try to work with 
everyone to try to accommodate everyone. There may be a need for 
further discussion.
  Let me take a moment to commend the Senator from Oregon and the 
Senator from Iowa and now the Senator from Oklahoma for your tenacity. 
You have been pecking away at this for years.
  Typical of the leadership, there was a time when I was saying, do we 
need to go that far; there is a misunderstanding about holds. In fact, 
that is a misnomer. There is no such thing. A hold is a request to be 
notified when an issue or a nominee will be brought up so we can come 
over and speak. The fact is, it ties the leadership's hands because 
quite often they say, wait a minute, I can't delay the business of the 
Senate to have this Senator come over here and talk at length--which is 
his or her right--on a nominee or a Member.
  The point I am trying to make, I have tried to work to deal with this 
issue of fairness. Senator Daschle and I did work with Senator Biden to 
further clarify, what is this thing, a hold? How do I have to comply 
with it? We requested that it be put in writing, which, by the way, was 
never locked into place. That is one of the reasons I am for this.
  We need to make it clearer about how Members do this and what the 
requirements are. We do not want to stop the practice of a Senator 
being able to file notice that he would like to be able to come over 
and discuss an issue.

  What I have had a problem with, I do think it has been abused. We 
have anonymous hold, we have rolling hold, and it is harder and harder 
and harder to try to do the business of the Senate. But the anonymous 
part of it is the part that bothers me the most. That is the thrust of 
the Rules bill and particularly the bill by the Committee on Homeland 
Security and Governmental Affairs. Let's open things, disclose things, 
have transparency, make sure the people know what we are up to.
  This is, in my opinion, very sinister, where Members can hold up a 
nomination, hold up a bill, and not even acknowledge they are doing it.
  I point out that all this amendment does is to say the holds must be 
in writing and they have to be published in the Record in 3 days.
  Is that the thrust of the Senator's amendment?
  Mr. WYDEN. The Senator is absolutely right.
  Mr. LOTT. What is the threat here? I do think there is a good cause 
for late at night, 6 o'clock, you are wrapping up, and all of a sudden 
the leadership hits us with, we want to clear 10 bills and a Senator 
can say, wait a minute, I want to make sure, What is the cost of this 
bill--as the Senator from New Hampshire has been inclined to do. He has 
that right. It is appropriate he be able to have time to look at that. 
But he ought to then have to put in writing that notice to the leader 
so the leader, if nothing else, will not forget it, and then 
acknowledge who he is. That is all this does.
  I don't know what the vote of the Senate is going to be because some 
Members may say they are giving up some of their senatorial 
prerogatives. No, you are not; you just can't hide. That is all.
  In the spirit of this legislation of openness and honesty, let me 
say, this is also an area where some Senators--no one has gotten in 
trouble with these holds or used the holds for a response or for some 
benefit personally, but the day will come, if we do not watch it, 
someone will get in trouble ethically with this procedure.
  The leaders may have a different view and I will be very responsive 
to their views, but for now, it is time we quit talking about making 
things more open and honest and we do it. This amendment would do that. 
I plan to support it.
  I am advised we do not have an objection to setting aside this 
amendment, unless others wish to speak on this amendment.
  Does the Senator from New York have a comment on this issue or 
another issue?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi has the floor.
  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I yield to the Senator from Oregon for a 
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from Mississippi. I 
particularly thank him for his extraordinarily supportive statement and 

[[Page S1881]]

all the help he has given me over this decade. It probably would be my 
preference to have a recorded vote at this time, particularly since I 
have had the good fortune to have had such a supportive statement from 
the distinguished chairman of the Committee on Rules.
  Is there a problem with having a recorded vote on the Wyden-Grassley-
Inhofe amendment at this time?
  Mr. LOTT. There would be a problem having the vote at this time, just 
out of convenience for a number of Senators on both sides who have 
other commitments. We would like to perhaps stack votes a little later 
in the afternoon. I want to collaborate with the chairman of Homeland 
Security and Senator Dodd and Senator Lieberman about exactly what time 
we would do that. We could get more work done without interfering with 
Senators' schedules.
  So, yes, there would be an objection to it right now. But it has 
already been locked in and we will have a recorded vote. It will be 
first in the sequence whenever we set it up.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, just to wrap this up, that is a very fair 
procedure that the Senator from Mississippi has outlined and we will be 
happy to accept that.
  Mr. LOTT. I ask unanimous consent we set aside the Wyden-Grassley-
Inhofe amendment and go to the next pending amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there an objection?
  Mr. SCHUMER. Reserving the right to object, could I speak, before we 
set it aside, on this amendment?
  Mr. LOTT. I withhold my unanimous consent request at this time, Mr. 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The consent request is withdrawn without 
  The Senator from New York is recognized.
  Mr. SCHUMER. I commend my colleague from Oregon and my colleague from 
Oklahoma for their lone battle on this issue. It is an issue we all 
agree with and very much appreciate their hard work.