Frist Rejects Deal to Give Up Fight Against Filibusters

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 26, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Frist Rejects Deal to Give Up Fight Against Filibusters

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 26, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Tuesday rejected a deal sought by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid regarding filibusters of President Bush’s pro-life judicial picks. Reid hoped to offer votes on a handful of nominees while obtaining a promise from Frist not to change Senate rules preventing filibusters of judicial nominees.

However, Frist said Tuesday that he is not interested in any deal that fails to secure up or down votes for all of President Bush’s selections.

Frist conducted a news conference Tuesday from the Senate floor and said he will not accept any deal that does not allow votes on all nominees approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"That would mean people in the past as well as the future,” Frist said.

"Are we going to step back from that principle? The answer to that is no,” Frist added, according to an Associated Press report.

Frist met privately with Reid on Monday, who said that dropping the quest for the rules change was a must for any deal.

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

The potential deal would have allowed 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.

Frist applauded those comments, according to the AP story.

"I’m pleased that their caucus is moving away from that threat,” Frist said.