S.2590 — A month of procedural nonsense

It’s been quite a month for S.2590, the bill that proposes to establish an easily searchable database of all federal grants and contracts, and about which I’ve blogged several times (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). The bill had a hold put on it before the summer recess, despite Bill Frist’s attempts to have a vote on a bill that anyone with a shred of sense will support unequivocally. 

The hold was placed by an unnamed senator and the blogosphere went nuts. Porkbusters and TPMmuckracker started a campaign to unmask this person, an effort that was endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Frist (1, 2), and it yielded somewhat unsurprising results: Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska has been revealed as the “secret holder”, although his office claims it was by no means a secret, reports CNN and ABC News.

It has subsequently become clear, however, that there was a second “secret holder”, namely Senator Byrd of West Virginia. (After his actions were revealed, Senator Byrd has released his hold.) So this is definitely a bi-partisan effort of holding up legislation that the vast majority of Americans would like to see passed as expeditiously as possible. It’s nice to see congruence across the Senate aisle. 

Both senators claim to have had unresolved concerns about the bill. Senator Byrd wanted the bill to be more fully debated before being passed (so why has he now released his hold?). Senator Stevens wanted to ask questions about the bill, too, but this is after he missed the initial hearing on the bill and the July 28 voice vote when it passed unanimously in the Homeland Security Committee — a committee he sits on! Maybe he was stuck n the Capitol Subway System. Y’know, in a series of tubes somewhere. 

Regardless, there is strong optimism that S.2590 will get passed very quickly when Congress returns to work. 

A question about the bill was asked of Tyson Whitney of OMB at the last Grants.gov Stakeholder’s Meeting. He noted that the timeline for implementation of any database is unknown and that the government is likely to look again at FAADS and FPDS-NG before starting again from scratch.