Metavid

Video archive of the US Congress

Senate Proceeding 09-21-10 on Sep 21st, 2010 :: 2:11:50 to 2:24:00
Total video length: 5 hours 23 minutes Stream Tools: Stream Overview | Edit Time

Note: MetaVid video transcripts may contain inaccuracies, help us build a more perfect archive

Download OptionsEmbed Video

Views:64 Duration: 0:12:10 Discussion

Previous speech: Next speech:

Ron Wyden

2:11:47 to 2:12:07( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: thank you, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president, it is clear from the debate on the defense bill and the vote that was held a bit ago that this is a partisan time for our nation.

Ron Wyden

2:11:50 to 2:24:00( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Ron Wyden

Ron Wyden

2:12:08 to 2:12:29( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: i come to the floor this afternoon to talk about an issue that is not at all partisan, and that is the question of doing public business in public. now, when you say those words,

Ron Wyden

2:12:30 to 2:12:53( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: doing public business in public, people are almost flabbergasted when they are told that regrettably, much of the important decisionmaking in the united states senate isn't done with that level of public accountability and public transparency, and that is

Ron Wyden

2:12:54 to 2:13:14( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: because of what are known as secret holds, where one united states senator, just one, in a completely anonymous fashion can block a bill or a nomination from even coming to light, from even being heard here in the united states senate.

Ron Wyden

2:13:15 to 2:13:35( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: and for years now, there has been a bipartisan effort to change this, to require that all united states senators be held accountable. senator grassley and i have been involved in this in a bipartisan

Ron Wyden

2:13:36 to 2:13:56( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: way for over a dozen years, for a dozen years, trying every way we could to establish the principle that the united states senate would do public business in public, and if a united states senator wanted to object to a bill or a nomination, they would have to be publicly

Ron Wyden

2:13:57 to 2:14:17( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: accountable. and for years now, the defenders of secrecy, the defenders of a system without transparency and accountability look for one dodge or another. but our bipartisan group on the other side of the aisle, senator grassley, of course, the

Ron Wyden

2:14:18 to 2:14:38( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: champion, senator collins, senator inhofe, a very significant bipartisan group. over on our side of the aisle, i'm particularly appreciative of senator mccaskill, who has done such hard work on the principle of establishing open accountability. my colleague from the pacific

Ron Wyden

2:14:39 to 2:14:59( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: northwest, senator murray, influential member of the rules committee, wants this level of public accountability. it's been a big bipartisan group and we seek to finally change this through an amendment that would have been possible under the defense authorization bill.

Ron Wyden

2:15:00 to 2:15:22( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: now, it was said in the course of this discussion, mr. president, this a bipartisan effort to end secret holds through an amendment to the defense authorization bill is -- and i quote -- "a corruption of the process and procedures of

Ron Wyden

2:15:23 to 2:15:47( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: the senate if ever there was o one." well, mr. president, i believe the use of secret holds and not a bipartisan effort to end them is the real corruption of the procedures of the united states senate. now, secret holds, mr. president, cannot be found anywhere in the u.s.

Ron Wyden

2:15:48 to 2:16:09( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: constitution or anywhere in the senate rules. so we've had a considerable debate over the last few months about the constitution, on reverence for this sacred document. secret holds are nowhere in the constitution, no where in the senate rules. yet in this congress alone, they

Ron Wyden

2:16:10 to 2:16:32( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: have been used to block what seems to be dozens of qualified nominees. and i would point out, mr. president, this has gone on for years and years on both sides of the aisle, and that is the point that senator grassley and i have emphasized for over a

Ron Wyden

2:16:33 to 2:16:53( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: decade, that this is an area of abuse, where you've seen both sides of the aisle use these secret processes to the detriment of the public interest. the real corruption of the process, in my view, is the way secret holds have been used to block the senate from acting on numerous nominations and pieces

Ron Wyden

2:16:54 to 2:17:17( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: of legislation without any accountability to the public. so that is why i believe that it ought to be possible to debate' bipartisan amendment to do public business in public, to end these secret holds. and the reason it needs to be

Ron Wyden

2:17:18 to 2:17:38( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: done now is that past efforts to ban these secret procedures have been blocked from getting a vote. this has happened five times in just the past few months. now, in the course of the debate as well, mr. president, there

Ron Wyden

2:17:39 to 2:17:59( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: was a discussion about what our bipartisan effort to do public business in public has to do with national security. the answer, mr. president, is a great deal. for example, earlier this year,

Ron Wyden

2:18:00 to 2:18:20( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: one of our colleagues secretly placed a blanket hold on 70 nominations to critical positions in the federal government that were pending before the senate. these nominations includes nominees to positions in the defense department and the state department.

Ron Wyden

2:18:21 to 2:18:43( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: and the senator who secretly held up those 70 nominees said that he was doing it to address national security concerns. let me repeat that, mr. president. you had 70 nominees under a blanket hold being held up from

Ron Wyden

2:18:44 to 2:19:06( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: even an open debate to address national security concerns. turned out that this particular united states senator was concerned about a dispute about the defense department's contracting practices and an earmark for a counterterrorism center -- counterterrorism center in the senator's home state.

Ron Wyden

2:19:07 to 2:19:27( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: so this one example shows that secret holds have been used and certainly the question of whether they've been abused to hold up dozens of qualified nominees over defense and national security issues. mr. president, this is only one example.

Ron Wyden

2:19:28 to 2:19:48( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: even today there's at least one nominee for a national security position whose nomination is secretly being held up. no one knows who has the hold or why it has been placed. so i come back to the connection first that changing these senate

Ron Wyden

2:19:49 to 2:20:10( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: procedures so public business is done in public is fundamental to all the operations of the united states senate and certainly our accountability to the american people. but, mr. president, it has a direct link because of the examples that i have cited here this afternoon to the future of

Ron Wyden

2:20:11 to 2:20:34( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: national security policy in our country. continued use of secret holds is an abuse of secrecy by the senate, and there is no better time to end this undemocratic process than through an amendment to the defense bill. with colleagues on both sides of

Ron Wyden

2:20:35 to 2:20:55( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: the aisle determined finally to get this done, i believe we will get it done, mr. president, when we get a open debate. our democracy and our national security are weakened, mr. president, when secrecy is abused.

Ron Wyden

2:20:56 to 2:21:17( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: i very much appreciate the opportunity this afternoon to highlight a number of key points in this discussion. first, this has absolutely nothing to do with partisan ship. partisanship. second, it is absolutely key to the fundamental accountability

Ron Wyden

2:21:18 to 2:21:40( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: of the united states senate to the american people to end this process of secrecy and of all senators held accountable. and, finally, this has a direct connection to matters of national security because in so many instances, these secret

Ron Wyden

2:21:41 to 2:22:01( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: holds have kept appointments to key national security positions from being open to debate and scrutiny here in the senate. mr. president, at the end of the day, there are a lot of issues that we face in the united

Ron Wyden

2:22:02 to 2:22:22( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: states senate that are hard to explain, they're complicated and they're hard for folks to follow at home. what is not hard to explain is why it is so important to do public business in public. at a time when the american people are certainly voicing

Ron Wyden

2:22:23 to 2:22:46( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: considerable skepticism about the ways of washington, this is a chance to show the american people that the united states senate is listening to them, that we share their commitment to open government, to doing public business in public, and i hope that the united states

Ron Wyden

2:22:47 to 2:23:07( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: senate will be able to change this offensive antidemocratic procedure that has been used way too long -- way too long -- to keep the american people from seeing the way the united states senate operates. and i look forward, mr. president, to our colleagues

Ron Wyden

2:23:08 to 2:23:28( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: on both sides of the aisle having a de on ending secret holds, doing public business in public. and i believe, mr. president, that when we get that vote, we will get a resounding vote to finally close this dark chapter in the way the senate does business and bring some sunshine to the decision-making process

Ron Wyden

2:23:29 to 2:23:53( Edit History Discussion )

Ron Wyden: here in the united states senate. mr. floor. and i would note also, mr. president, the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.

Personal tools

MetaVid is a non-profit project of UC Santa Cruz and the Sunlight Foundation. Learn more About MetaVid

The C-SPAN logo and other servicemarks that may be found in video content are the property of their respective trademark holders. None of these trademark holders are affiliated with Metavid