by Steven Ertelt
April 19, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Tuesday that a change in Senate rules lowering the number of votes needed to stop filibusters against President Bush’s pro-life judicial picks will have no impact on filibusters regarding legislation.
Frist sought to allay fears from some lawmakers who may resist the rules changes out of concern it would impact Senate legislation.
"As more and more attention has focused in recent weeks on a partisan minority unfairly blocking simple up or down votes on judicial nominees in the Senate, some have claimed that any effort to restore precedent for up or down votes on judicial nominees would affect the rights of senators when it comes to legislation," Frist explained.
However, the Senate Republican leader assured lawmakers that "I will not act in any way to impact the rights of colleagues when it comes to legislation."
In a statement, Frist said Senate rules "provide many tools" to ensure that legislative measures receive up or down votes.
First is lobbying the Republican caucus and some members of the Democratic Party to support the rules change because pro-abortion Democrats have filibustered more than a dozens pro-life nominees to key federal courts.
Seeking to head off a rules change, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada suggested last week that Frist may want to do away with legislative filibusters as well. Reid has also threatened to shut down the Senate and prevent votes on legislation if the rules change takes effect.
Pro-life groups support the rules change and worry that the filibusters would prevent approving new Supreme Court justices, who could eventually overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
Abortion advocacy groups oppose the rules change and have urged supporters to contact members of Congress to vote against it.
While only 50 votes are needed to confirm a nominee, 60 are needed to break a filibuster. Most of President Bush’s key judicial picks have the necessary votes to be confirmed, but not enough to stop the debate.