Republicans, Democrats Predict Filibuster Win, Compromises Continue

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 16, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Republicans, Democrats Predict Filibuster Win, Compromises Continue Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 16, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Both Republicans and Democrats say they will win in a potential vote on whether to change Senate rules to lower the number of votes necessary to stop filibusters on President Bush’s pro-life judicial picks. Meanwhile, some senators are holding out hope for a compromise to prevail.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist intends to ask the Senate to vote this week on the nominations of pro-life judges Priscilla Owen of Texas and Janice Rogers Brown of California for key federal appeals court positions.

A debate is potentially scheduled for Wednesday with a vote coming later in the week or early next week after several days of debate.

If abortion advocates continue their filibusters against them, Frist plans to ask the Senate to lower from 60 to 50 the votes needed to break a filibuster on judicial nominations.

Meanwhile, one leading Republican thinks it could be possible to reach the 60 vote margin needed to stop a filibuster outright.

"I haven’t given up on the possibility that we might have 60 votes, including some Democrats who’ve been whispering in our ears that they believe that this ought to be defused," Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who is the top vote counter for the GOP, said on "Fox News Sunday."

Republicans have previously reached only 53 to 55 votes on most anti-filibuster votes, though the 2004 elections gave them a couple of additional votes.

However, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, told Fox News that his party was united and he expected to pick up support for the filibuster from pro-abortion Republicans.

"We feel that there are at least four Republican senators who feel as we do and we feel that there are several who are making up their minds at the last moment," Durbin said.

Some senators are holding out hope for a compromise, though neither side is willing to give in on its position for or against changing Senate rules.

"I think we’re close, but whether we’ll actually achieve it or not is not clear," Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who opposes changing Senate rules, told ABC’s "This Week" on Sunday.

"Part of this compromise that’s being bandied about should be very appropriately a commitment not, except in the most extreme circumstances, to filibuster Supreme Court justices and appellate courts," McCain told ABC. "That’s a major concession on the part of those who are trying to reach compromise here."