Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) called out her colleagues today on the Senate floor for attaching what she calls “secret holds” on federal nominees.

She says many federal nominees have gotten no objections, and she blames the hold process in committee. McCaskill says she’s not talking about obstructionism, but rather transparency. McCaskill chastised her fellow senators saying the country doesn’t trust them because of this very kind of running business on Capitol Hill.

McCaskill read off the names of more than 50 nominees on the floor, which starts the clock on when they’d have to be considered for objections or approval. Once read, there’s a six-day period in which senators with holds would have to declare the reasons for their actions. According to law, the reason would have required publication in the Congressional Record.

She says there are about 80 nominations in all that are being held secretly by both Republicans and Democrats. She pointed to one reason for holds, saying sometimes a particular senator has a problem with the department, and not necessarily the person.

“You want to hold somebody, that’s your right as a senator. But own it,” she says.

McCaskill’s office issued the following statement and video of the floor address:

Frustrated with the secrecy that surrounds the way the Senate does business, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill took to the Senate floor to demand her colleagues make public their objections to non-controversial nominations on the floor. Despite requirements passed in sweeping ethics reform legislation in 2007 to force transparency when senators try to put secret “holds” on bills and nominations, senators continue to file anonymous objections. Around 80 nominees are currently being blocked without explanation.

“If you have an objection to a nominee, you should tell the public you have that objection, and, frankly, you owe the public an explanation why,” McCaskill said. “We’re here working for them. We’re doing the people’s business here. We’re not doing some back room deal. We’re doing the people’s business.”

 Watch video of McCaskill’s floor speech here.

The secrecy allows members to indefinitely block the Senate confirmation of government appointees without being held accountable or having to explain their concerns to the public.  These nominees are non-controversial and were passed out of committee without opposition. 

Following her speech, McCaskill proceeded to ask for agreement to vote on many of the nominees in question. She called up 17 nominees for a vote and Republicans objected repeatedly. McCaskill plans to return to the floor throughout the week to ask for a vote on the remaining 59 nominees who are being held in secret.

The list of nominees called up for a vote by McCaskill is below.

–          Stuart Gordon Nash, of the District of Columbia, to be an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

Without objection, the nomination was confirmed.

–          Warren F. Miller, Jr, of New Mexico, to be Director of the office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, Department of Energy.

Republicans objected.

–          Julie A. Reiskin, of Colorado, to be Member of the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation.

Republicans objected.

–          Gloria Valencia-Weber, of New Mexico, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation.

 Republicans objected.

–          Benjamin B. Tucker, of New York, to be Deputy Director for State, Local, and Tribal Affairs, Office of National Drug Control Policy.

 Republicans objected.

 –          John H. Laub, of the District of Columbia, to be Director of the National Institute of Justice.

 Republicans objected.

 –          Anthony R. Coscia, of New Jersey, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors.

 Republicans objected.

 –          Albert DiClemente, of Delaware, to be a Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors.

 Republicans objected.

 –          Mark R. Rosekind, of California, to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board.

 Republicans objected.

 –          P. David, Lopez, of Arizona, to be General Counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

 Republicans objected.

 –          Victoria A. Lipnic, of Virginia, to be a Member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

 Republicans objected.

 –          Jill Long Thompson, of Indiana, to be a Member of the Farm Credit Administration Board.

 Republicans objected.

 –          Eric L. Hirschhorn, of Maryland, to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration.

 Republicans objected.

 –          Steven L. Jacques, of Kansas, to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

 Republicans objected.

 –          Jim R. Esque, of New York, to be an Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services.

 Republicans objected.

           Michael W. Punk, of Montana, to be a Deputy United States Trade Representative.

 Republicans objected.

 –          Islam  A. Siddiqui, of Virginia, to be Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the United States Trade Representative.

 Republicans objected.