The OPEN Government Act of 2007, H.R. 1309, passed the U.S. House in March overwhelmingly, by a 308-117 vote. Then a companion bill (S.B. 849) moved out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and was scheduled for a full Senate vote. The act would make the federal government--which these days often refuses to release even the most basic public information--respond to Freedom of Information Act requests in a timely fashion; the bill would also form an ombudsman's office to help resolve information disputes.
Then Kyl stepped in.
He placed an anonymous hold on the bill, and only admitted that he was the responsible for the hold after a number of journalism and open-government advocates flushed him out by calling the other 99 U.S. senators. (FYI: When the Weekly tried to call him and ask him if he was the senator who had placed the hold, his office didn't return our calls.)
Kyl has since said he placed the hold because of concerns about the bill at the Justice Department--the same Justice Department that thinks it's OK to wiretap U.S. citizens without warrants and to fire U.S. attorneys for political reasons.
The fact that one senator can stop a bill that's sure to pass is appalling. And you can do something about it:
· Call Sen. John McCain's office at (202) 224-2235 and ask him to co-sponsor the OPEN Government Act, and to put pressure on Kyl to release his hold.
· Call Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, and ask him to pressure Kyl to release the hold: (202) 224-2541.
· Finally, call Kyl's office and tell him that his hold is wrong, and to let the bill reach the Senate floor for a vote: (202) 224-4521.