The bill was introduced in early April and already has been passed by a committee (the step in the process where senators usually bottle up controversial bills) and placed on the Senate's legislative calendar. But one senator doesn't like it. And that may be enough to derail it, because he (or she) has put a hold on it. A secret hold. How's that for irony -- a secret hold on an open-government bill?
It may not stay that way for long, though. The watchdog group Porkbusters, www.porkbusters.org, is trying to smoke out the offender. It's urging constituents to call their senators and push them to disavow the hold. Senators who go on record against the hold are "removed from the suspect list."
Obama and I disagree on many things. But he's right about this. The United States needs more openness in government, so anyone and everyone can review how Uncle Sam spends our tax money. Good government shouldn't be held hostage by secret holds.
Lawmakers have the right -- indeed, the responsibility -- to block legislation they consider bad. But they should always do so publicly, identifying themselves and explaining their actions.
If senators aren't willing to block a bill publicly, they should allow the bill to move forward. That's how good government works: Everyone should know what it's up to. At the end of the day, that's the best way to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse.
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