You Really Got A Hold On Me

The "hold" is an informal Senate custom that allows any lawmaker to delay action on any bill or nomination at any time for any reason. It is essentially a threatened filibuster. And it is usually anonymous — senators allow their colleagues to place secret holds as a tradition and courtesy. The majority leader can try to move ahead despite a hold, but doing so can mean days of lost time on procedural votes and debate. A president can overcome holds on nominations by making short-term appointments while Congress is away on recess. President Obama made 17 such appointments in March. But as of June 23, there were holds on 69 executive and judicial nominees, all but a handful anonymous. Democrats say they have placed no secret holds.

It used to be rare that nominees would linger on the Senate’s list of pending confirmations for days, weeks and months. Most were approved within hours of being referred out of committee to the full Senate. But during much of the Obama administration, dozens of nominations have been stalled for long periods. On the eve of a June 23 hearing on abolishing secret holds, however, Republican leader Mitch McConnell agreed to allow the confirmation of 63 stalled nominees, clearing close to half the backlog. The nominations below are those who were not cleared.

Name Position Committee
approval
Hold placed by
John J. Sullivan Member, Federal Election Commission June 11, 2009 Sen. Russell Feingold D-Wisc.
Warren F. Miller Jr. Director, Office of Radioactive Waste Management, DOE Aug. 4, 2009 Anonymous
Winslow Lorenzo Sargeant Chief counsel for advocacy, Small Business Administration Sept. 16, 2009 Anonymous
Julie A. Reiskin Board member, Legal Services Corp. Oct. 21, 2009 Anonymous
Gloria Valencia-Weber Board member, Legal Services Corp. Oct. 21, 2009 Anonymous
Rafael Borras Under secretary, Homeland Security Oct. 28, 2009 Anonymous
Jane Branstetter Stranch* Circuit court judge, 6th circuit Nov. 19, 2009 Anonymous
Phillip E. Coyle III Associate director, Office of Science and Technology Policy Dec. 3, 2009 Anonymous
Jacqueline A. Berrien Member, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Dec. 10, 2009 Anonymous
Mark R. Rosekind Member, National Transportation Safety Board Dec. 3, 2009 Anonymous
Chai Rachel Feldblum Member, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Dec. 10, 2009 Anonymous
P. David Lopez General Counsel, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Dec. 10, 2009 Anonymous
Victoria A. Lipnic Member, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Dec. 10, 2009 Anonymous
Jill Long Thompson Member, Farm Credit Administration Board Dec. 16, 2009 Anonymous
Eric L. Hirschhorn Under Secretary of Commerce, Export Administration Dec. 17, 2009 Anonymous
Michael W. Punke Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Dec. 23, 2009 Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky
Islam A. Siddiqui Chief agricultural negotiator, Office of U.S. Trade Representative Dec. 23, 2009 Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky
Michael F. Mundaca Assistant secretary of the Treasury Dec. 23, 2009 Anonymous
Albert Diaz* Circuit court judge, 4th circuit Jan. 28, 2010 Anonymous
James A. Wynn Jr.* Circuit court judge, 4th circuit Jan. 28, 2010 Anonymous
Craig Becker Member, National Labor Relations Board Feb. 4, 2010 Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Louis B. Butler Jr.* District court judge, Western Wisconsin Feb. 4, 2010 Anonymous
Edward Milton Chen* District court judge, Northern California Feb. 4, 2010 Anonymous
Mary L. Smith Assistant attorney general Feb. 4, 2010 Anonymous
Benita Y. Pearson* District court judge, Northern Ohio Feb. 11, 2010 Anonymous
Marilyn A. Brown Board member, Tennessee Valley Authority March 4, 2010 Anonymous
William B. Sansom Board member, Tennessee Valley Authority March 4, 2010 Anonymous
Neil G. McBride Board member, Tennessee Valley Authority March 4, 2010 Anonymous
Barbara Short Haskew Board member, Tennessee Valley Authority March 4, 2010 Anonymous
Michael Peter Huerta Deputy administrator, Federal Aviation Administration March 18, 2010 Anonymous
Victor H. Ashe Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors April 13, 2010 Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
Walter Isaacson Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors April 13, 2010 Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
Michael Lynton Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors April 13, 2010 Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
Susan McCue Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors April 13, 2010 Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
Dennis Mulhaupt Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors April 13, 2010 Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
S. Enders Wimbush Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors April 13, 2010 Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
Bisa Williams Ambassador to Niger April 13, 2010 Anonymous
Raul Yzaguirre Ambassador to the Dominican Republic April 13, 2010 Anonymous
Theodore Sedgwick Ambassador to the Slovak Republic April 13, 2010 Anonymous
Robert Stephen Ford Ambassador to Syria April 13, 2010 Anonymous
William Joseph Martinez* District court judge, Colorado April 15, 2010 Anonymous
Gary Scott Feinerman* District court judge, Northern Illinois April 15, 2010 Anonymous
Sharon Johnson Coleman* District court judge, Northern Illinois April 15, 2010 Anonymous
Mari Carmen Aponte Ambasssador to El Salvador April 28, 2010 Anonymous
Solomon B. Watson IV General Counsel, Department of the Army May 5, 2010 Anonymous
J. Michelle Childs* District court judge, South Carolina May 6, 2010 Anonymous
Richard Mark Gergel* District court judge, South Carolina May 6, 2010 Anonymous
Catherine C. Eagles* District court judge, Middle North Carolina May 6, 2010 Anonymous
Kimberly J. Mueller* District court judge, Eastern California May 6, 2010 Anonymous
Goodwin Liu* Circuit court judge, 9th Circuit May 13, 2010 Anonymous
Raymond Joseph Lohier Jr.* Circuit court judge, 2nd Circuit May 13, 2010 Anonymous
Leonard Philip Stark* District court judge, Delaware May 13, 2010 Anonymous
Jonathan Andrew Hatfield Inspector General, Corporation for National and Community Service May 25, 2010 Anonymous
Michael P. Meehan Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors May 25, 2010 Anonymous
Dana M. Perino Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors May 25, 2010 Anonymous
S. Leslie Ireland Assistant secretary, Treasury Department May 25, 2010 Anonymous
John A. Gibney Jr.* District court judge, Eastern Virginia May 27, 2010 Anonymous
Joshua Gotbaum Director, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation June 7, 2010 Anonymous
Carl Wieman Associate director, Office of Science and Technology Policy June 9, 2010 Anonymous
Robert Neil Chatigny* Circuit court judge, 2nd circuit June 10, 2010 Anonymous
Scott M. Matheson Jr.* Circuit court judge, 10th circuit June 10, 2010 Anonymous
James Kelleher Bredar* District court judge, Maryland June 10, 2010 Anonymous
Ellen Lipton Hollander* District court judge, Maryland June 10, 2010 Anonymous
Susan Richard Nelson* District court judge, Minnesota June 10, 2010 Anonymous
John J. McConnell Jr.* District court judge, Rhode Island June 17, 2010 Anonymous
Malcolm D. Jackson Assistant administrator, Environmental Protection Agency June 21, 2010 Anonymous
Christopher A. Massingil Federal cochairperson, Delta Regional Authority June 21, 2010 Anonymous
Rafael Moure-Eraso Chairperson, Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board June 21, 2010 Anonymous
Mark A. Griffon Member, Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board June 21, 2010 Anonymous

Notes

* Indicates a judicial appointment, which is for life. Other nominations are for set terms. Source: Senate Executive Calendar

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