Senate Leaders Work on Filibuster Deal on Bush Judges

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 25, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Leaders Work on Filibuster Deal on Bush Judges Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 25, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Senate leaders on Monday began work on a possible compromise deal attempting to iron out a feud between pro-life lawmakers and Senate Democrats who have been using filibusters to stop votes on President Bush’s pro-life judicial picks.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist met privately on Monday with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. According to a Washington Post report, the potential deal would allow votes on two Bush nominees to federal appeals courts in exchange for Republicans dropping plans to change Senate rules on filibusters.

Under the terms of the arrangement, the Senate would vote on the confirmation of Richard Griffin and David McKeague, two selections for the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Reid also wants Frist to urge Bush to drop the nomination of Henry Saad, and replace him with someone more acceptable to Democrats.

Leading pro-life lawmakers and pro-life organizations would likely not settle for such a deal. Democratic filibusters are holding up about two dozen key federal appeals court and district court picks.

The filibusters could also threaten the nomination of potential Supreme Court picks the president could make later in his term.

Reid has threatened to shut down the Senate if Republicans change the filibuster rules, though he has recently backed off past comments and said vital legislation would be allowed through.

"I would rather dance than fight. I want to do everything I can to avoid this,” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said in an interview on CNN.

Reid also released a statement Monday about the private talks and said that withdrawing the threat of changing Senate rules was a must for the deal to move forward.

"As part of any resolution, the nuclear option must be off the table," the statement said.

Still, according to a Fox News report, a spokesman for Frist was continuing Frist’s battle to get Senate Democrats to back down.

"Democratic senators should abandon their unprecedented judicial filibusters, give the nominees a fair up or down vote," spokesman Bob Stevenson said Monday.

The possibility of a deal came just one day after Frist told millions of Americans in a nationwide broadcast that Senate Democrats should allow up or down votes on Bush’s nominees.

"I don’t think it’s radical to ask senators to vote. I don’t think it’s radical to expect senators to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities," Frist said.

"Either confirm the nominees or reject them," Frist said. "Don’t leave them hanging."