Americas

Lone Senator Holding Religious Freedom Commission 'Hostage'

Watchdog may close up in less than a month. (Updated)

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is a small commission that monitors religious freedom. Last month, the House of Representatives voted 391–21 to reauthorize the USCIRF. The Senate, however, has not voted because one anonymous U.S. Senator is blocking a vote. If the Senate fails to act by November 18, the USCIRF will cease to exist.

In the Senate, consideration of legislation often requires unanimous consent. This means that any Senator can block legislation from consideration. The Senate rules allow what is often called a "secret hold." A Senator can put a hold on a bill by telling his or her party leader that the Senator opposes consideration of a bill. The Senator's name is not made public. In the case of the USCIRF, there is one Senator placing a hold on the reauthorization bill.

The reauthorization legislation is sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.). Wolf is a socialconservative who has a long record on issues of religious freedom. ...

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