Outside editorial: Who's the anonymous senator?

Posted: Friday, April 20, 2007

This editorial appeared in the Washington Post:

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The U.S. Senate hit a pothole on the road to modernity on Tuesday. A request for unanimous consent by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., for a bill that would require candidates for the Senate to file campaign finance reports electronically was blocked by an anonymous Republican senator hiding behind Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who announced the move. Would that this Luddite had the courage of his or her convictions to explain publicly said opposition to 21st-century custom.

The last time we wrote about the need for this common-sense advance, there was fear that Feinstein would not get a quorum in the Rules and Administration Committee, which she chairs, to vote the bill out. That hurdle cleared, she sought passage by unanimous consent. That's when Alexander stepped forward to object on behalf of another senator.

What could be the fear? It's not as if senators would be alone in this practice. Filing campaign finance reports electronically is standard for candidates for the House of Representatives and the White House. The point is to make it easier for the public to see who is giving to whom and how the money is being spent. In our up-to-the-minute world, the Senate's insistence on maintaining its cumbersome obstacle course of disclosure procedures makes no sense.

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