Senator holds up database spending bill

Legislation that would establish a massive database to track all kinds of federal spending is running into political roadblocks.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Capitol Hill sources said, placed an indefinite hold on S 2590, a bill that would require the Office of Management and Budget to create and maintain a searchable database with information on federal contracts, subcontracts, grants, subgrants, loans and other financial assistance.

Members of Congress can place a hold on any legislation, preventing it from being voted on by their chamber.

The legislation is sponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.). It passed the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee before Congress' August recess, but Washington observers predicted that the bill might have trouble getting out of the full Senate.

Coburn's office has made "repeated" attempts to discuss the legislation with Stevens, but thus far the lawmakers have not communicated, said Coburn's spokesman John Hart.

A spokesman for Stevens, though, said Stevens notified Coburn in mid-August about his hold and asked for a cost-benefit analysis of the legislation. Stevens does not plan on lifting the hold until Coburn's ofice "supplies us with the basic information we've requested," the spokesman said.

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) also placed a hold on the bill, but dropped his opposition late Thursday, his office said in a statement. Byrd, the statement said, wanted more time to read and understand the bill before bringing it to the Senate floor.

"Sen. Byrd believes that the bill should be debated and opened for amendment, and not pushed through without discussion," his office said.

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