Ironic: Anonymous Republican blocks vote on open government

Despite being passed by the U.S. House of Representatives by an overwhelming majority and getting Senate Judiciary Committee approval, a bill promoting government transparency has been barred from getting a floor vote, thanks to an anonymous Republican senator. The unnamed legislator put a secret hold on the Open Government Act, which can be done without revealing the senator's identity or a rationale for the move.

Aimed at strengthening the Freedom of Information Act and speeding up the processing of FOIA requests, the stalled measure has been targeted by journalists and bloggers seeking to unmask the senator. Said Vermont Sen. Pat Leahy, "It is both unfortunate and ironic that this bipartisan bill, which promotes sunshine and openness in our government, is being hindered by a secret and anonymous hold."

The Society of Professional Journalists is leading a crowdsourcing campaign to identify the senator. So far the effort has identified 75 senators who did not place the block. Minnesota's Sen. Norm Coleman was not among those 75.

Update: The Associated Press reports that Sen. Jon Kyl, a Republican from Arizona, placed the block because "the Justice Department is concerned that it could force them to reveal sensitive information." The SPJ has dubbed Kyl "Senator Secrecy."

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