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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Which Senator (s) Is Behind the Secret Hold on Coburn-Obama Spending Database Bill? Can the Blogosphere Force the Offender Out in the Open?

Federal Times reports today that "an unknown number of senators have blocked legislation to create a public, searchable Web site of all federal grants and contracts. Senate rules permit any senator to anonymously block consideration of a bill on the floor, effectively killing the measure."

The measure is not necessarily dead because the offending senator or senators might withdraw their hold, or the Senate might even change its rules and require the identities of such holders to be made public.

In any case, the senator or senators who placed the anonymous hold on the measure are swimming against the tide of support for Coburn-Obama from more than 100 organizations that span the political spectrum.

As for which senator is the most likely candidate for being responsible, two come immediately to mind. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-AK, threw a temper tantrum and vowed to resign if funds for the proposed "Bridge to Nowhere" were killed.

Then there is former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-MS, who forever memorialized himself with this quote: "I'll just say this about the so-called Porkbusters. I'm getting damn tired of hearing from them. They have been nothing but trouble ever since Katrina."

Whoever it might actually be, the Blogosphere could be instrumental in uncovering the offending senator or senators identity by calling every senate office and asking if the boss is the one.

Let's keep a tally of the responses. Odds are, of course, that we will end up with a list of 100 senators who either said "no, it's not me" or "no comment," or senators' staff members who said "we don't know" or "we can't find out."

Who knows what might be the political consequences of being fingered as the senator who is so desperate to keep the American people from knowing how their government is spending their money that he or she would put a hold on Coburn-Obama and then hide in the dark shadows of anonymity provided by Senate rules.

UPDATE: Porkbusters.org Tracking Senators' Responses to The Question

The Question is did you put the secret hold on the Coburn-Obama bill to create a public, searchable database of all federal spending? N.Z. Bear, the genius behind Truth Laid Bear and (with Instapunditmeister Glenn Reynolds) Porkbusters.org, quickly whipped together a handy chart showing the name and telephone number for every U.S. senator.

Bear is asking people to call their senators, then email the results of the call to him at porkbusters@porkbusters.org. Regardless of the results of this particular campaign, I nominte Bear for the title of the Fastest Right Geek of the Blogosphere. This guy is awesome!