Following passage of the misnamed "USA FREEDOM Act," the United States Senate has turned its attention to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This bill was marked up in secret, following a roll-call vote that was taken several weeks before the mark-up at a committee meeting.
I have never heard of votes being taken before a scheduled mark-up. Even more unusual is that reports that the decision to close the mark-up was made by Senate staffers, (hat/tip POGO):
It turns out the committee’s April 23rd vote was even more out of line with Senate rules than we previously reported. POGO has now learned that SASC staff—voting for Senators that did not anticipate any votes during the pre-markup meeting, made some of the deciding votes on their boss's behalf. It was only after the fact that they confirmed their Senator would have voted the same way.
While POGO disagrees with the Senators who voted to close the session, we respect that they were democratically elected to make these decisions. Allowing staff to vote on the key decision whether to open or close the markup of a bill that determines how to spend over half a trillion dollars is not only a violation of the Senate rules, but a breach of the public trust. Although SASC rules allow for proxy voting, the use of that tool should be limited, and it appears the conditions for using proxies were not met with this vote.
In my 15 years on Capitol Hill I never heard of a case where staffers voted in place of Senators or Representatives, but I guess it is ok in this case cause "national security....."
In any case, here is the roll-call vote of whether or not to keep closed the NDAA mark-up, from the Senate Report (note they do not mention the vote occurred before the mark-up or that staffers voted). Those recorded as voting in favor voted to mark up the NDAA in secret:
VOTE: Passed by roll call vote 17-9
In favor: Senators McCain, Inhofe, Sessions, Wicker,
Fischer, Cotton, Rounds, Tillis, Sullivan, Graham, Reed,
Nelson, Manchin, Donnelly, Hirono, Kaine, and King
Opposed: Senators Ayotte, Ernst, Lee, Cruz, McCaskill,
Shaheen, Gillibrand, Blumenthal, and Heinrich