South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint has had a “standing hold” on all legislation throughout the two years since Barack Obama’s election as president, Sen. Jeff Merkley disclosed.
The Oregon Democrat told the Huffington Post on Tuesday: “It is my understanding Jim DeMint has had a standing hold on everything throughout this two-year process.
"When I have had amendments on a couple of occasions, I have been told:
'Absolutely, we in the Republican leadership are fine but you are going to have to clear it with Jim DeMint because he has a standing hold on everything.’”
Merkley’s remarks came after DeMint’s office on Monday e-mailed GOP aides to inform them that he would block all legislation that he and his staff have not personally cleared until the November elections.
Said Merkley: “I’m not sure this is a real change from what he has been doing.”
DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton did not deny Merkley’s charge. He said: "Senator DeMint takes his responsibilities as a senator very seriously and the voters of South Carolina expect him to read bills before agreeing to pass legislation. What we are talking about here are amendments, bills, or resolutions being passed by unanimous consent, meaning all 100 senators are needed.”
Any senator can place a hold to block legislation, and overcoming that would require the Senate to go through the time-consuming process of cloture, which needs 60 Senators for passage, or to drop the legislation entirely.
“With the Senate slated to adjourn Thursday until after the elections, DeMint's stance could mean trouble for Democrats if the two parties don't quickly agree on a stopgap spending measure to keep the government operating past Sept. 30,” Politico reported.
“And that could mean the demise of a slew of other stalled and largely noncontroversial bills.”
DeMint told Politico on Tuesday that his staff was currently reviewing 40 to 50 bills that both sides want to clear by unanimous consent before Congress adjourns for the month of October.
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