Why Reforming Senate Holds Can Benefit the Democratic Process

Congressional Reform, Legislative Process By Kevin R. Kosar January 1, 2024

Source: Senate.gov.

“While the Senate is often bound in arcane procedural knots, Senate holds are relatively straightforward. The Senate often does not operate under strict observance of its rulebook because under those procedures votes on every motion on each piece of pending business—nominations, legislation, even approving the Journal—could stretch out for hours, days, or even weeks. Rather than allowing floor time to be dominated by procedural matters, the Senate typically opts to structure its business through unanimous consent agreements (UCAs). These agreements are negotiated between party leaders to determine the order of business, how much time will be allocated for debate, and what amendments might be in order. UCAs or any unanimous consent request requires that every senator agrees to the request. As the Congressional Research Service (CRS) notes, holds “allow Senators to give notice to their respective party leader that certain measures or matters should not be brought up on the floor” because the senator placing the hold will object to unanimous consent….” (Read more)


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