Why the Tea Party Caucus Wanted to Save the Secret Hold

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 28 2011 8:20 AM

Why the Tea Party Caucus Wanted to Save the Secret Hold

Earlier this week, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., predicted that a vote banning the process of "secret holds" -- the right of senators to stop a nominee or piece of legislation without revealing his or her identity -- would get "much more" than 67 votes. It got 92 votes . Four Republicans voted nay, though, and three of them -- Jim DeMint, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee -- had just launched the Tea Party Caucus earlier in the day.

I had asked Lee about the secret hold vote, and filibuster reform in general, at the launch event. He confirmed what he'd told me before, that he was just not interested in changing Senate rules. Why not? Because they were the Senate rules.

Advertisement

"It may be one of those things where, sometimes, you throw up an idea and see if it gains traction," he shrugged. "You know, I respect that strategy, even if I don’t agree with the objective."

There's a division here between the new strict constructionist senators and the older conservatives. It was Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who turned the "secret hold" into a galvanizing issue in 2006 by smoking out the identity of a senator who'd held up the Coburn-Obama reform bill. Coburn and most conservatives focused on outcome; the Tea Party Caucus is focused on rules.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 30 2014 2:36 PM This Court Erred The Supreme Court has almost always sided with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful, a new book argues.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 30 2014 1:23 PM What Can Linguistics Tell Us About Writing Better? An Interview with Steven Pinker.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.