Mystery senator holds up open gov bill

Conservatives and liberals try to smoke out unnamed senator. Advocates puzzled as to why someone would block.

"In the dead of the night," as one watchdog puts it, an unidentified senator put a secret hold on a bill that would have required public disclosure of federal grants and contracts, Cox News Service reports.

The measure had been unanimously passed in a voice vote last month by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. It was on the fast track for floor action before Congress recessed Aug. 4 when someone put a hold on the measure. Now the bill is in political limbo. Under Senate rules, unless the senator who placed the hold decides to lift it, the bill will not be brought up for a vote.

Now conservatives and liberals have banded together to "smoke out" the sleazy senator who didn't have the guts to block the measure in public. Porkbusters.org posted photographs of all senatorial suspects underneath a bold-faced headline asking, "Who is the Secret Holder?"

"It really is a mystery, not only who did it, but what the rationale could possibly be and why they would go to the mat on this," said Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, a new Washington-based nonprofit devoted to helping the public understand Congress through the Internet. "There is no conceivable, rational explanation for killing this legislation unless they have something to hide."

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