I’ve been answering a lot of what-can-THOMAS-do-for-me questions lately. The most interesting composite of questions asks, “how do I track Senate bills that have holds placed on them?”

Because holds are an informal part of the legislative process, THOMAS does not track them… directly. In fact, before S.Res. 28 which brought holds into the public record, we couldn’t track them at all. Now, there are a few ways to go about finding who’s preventing a bill from reaching the Senate floor.

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Option 1: Check the Congressional Record for a voice opposition to a bill. Use the iPad app if you’re really feeling fancy. Eventually, any floor opposition will be recorded in the Congressional Calendar. But, the CR has the potential to scoop the calendar.

Option 2: Still with the Congressional Record, look for a notice of intent to object in the extension of remarks, either from the Senator placing the hold, or from the appropriate leader on behalf of the Senator. Again, all of this will eventually be recorded in the calendar, but you may learn something a day or two early by stalking the CR.

Option 3: Stick to the notice of a hold in the Congressional Calendar. THOMAS links out to a variety of calendars, but you’re looking for the goods at GPO FDsys.

There’s still quite a lot of dot connecting that needs to be done, legislative history wise, to understand why a Senator is placing a hold on a bill. But, disclosure is a start. Let the sunshine in, indeed.

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