Filibuster Compromise Makes Little Headway, Senators Firm Up

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 23, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Filibuster Compromise Makes Little Headway, Senators Firm Up Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 23, 2005

Washington, DC ( — A potential compromise is making little headway as members of the Senate make their positions more firm in support of or opposition to stopping filibusters on President Bush’s pro-life judicial picks. Unless a deal is brokered, a vote will move forward on Tuesday to change Senate rules.

A meeting Monday may offer the last chance for a handful of Democrat and Republican lawmakers seeking to avert Tuesday’s showdown.

"We’ll be meeting again tomorrow, and that’ll be our last opportunity," Senator John McCain of Arizona said on "Fox News Sunday."

"We’re having difficulty coming up with exact language which would portray that desire. It’s tough," he explained.

Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, a pro-life Democrat, agreed with McCain’s assessment, noting that "when you have 12 senators . . . you have 14 opinions."

Though he is still hopeful an 11th hour agreement can be reached, "it’s very hard to handicap it at this point in time," Nelson told CNN’s "Late Edition."

Nelson, McCain and 10 other lawmakers are hoping to craft a compromise that will allow votes on about two-thirds of a dozen nominees currently being filibustered.

The compromise would also have six Democrats agreeing to not filibuster Supreme Court nominees except in "extreme circumstances." What that means is under debate and could jeopardize the deal.

Pro-life groups indicate they oppose such a compromise because it doesn’t assure that Bush’s nominees for the high court will receive a vote.

"Cutting a nutty deal with Democrats, who have nothing to lose and everything to gain, makes no sense," Jan LaRue of Concerned Women for America, said.

Meanwhile, Senate Republican leaders said they had no intention of postponing a vote on the nomination of pro-life Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen to a federal appeals court.

If the Senate fails to end debate on the Owen nomination, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will move ahead with the parliamentary motion to change Senate rules. He needs just 50 votes to succeed.

Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky lawmaker and the number two Republican in the Senate, told CBS’ "Face the Nation" on Sunday that he and Frist have the 50 votes necessary to alter Senate rules on filibusters of judicial nominees.