Senate Will Vote on Samuel Alito Next Week, More Democrats Supportive

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 26, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Will Vote on Samuel Alito Next Week, More Democrats Supportive Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 26, 2006

Washington, DC ( — Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says he is planning to file a motion to limit debate on the nomination of Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court, setting up a potential vote on confirming him next week. Meanwhile, two more Democrats say they will support Alito.

Alito has enough votes to be confirmed and Senate Democrats haven’t announced an official filibuster of his nomination, but Frist said Thursday he’s ready to wind down the debate.

Without a unanimous consent agreement to schedule a confirmation vote, Frist, a Tennessee Republican, said he will file the cloture motion to limit debate, which needs 60 votes to be approved. Observers say they expect enough.

"Senate Democrats should stop their foot-dragging on the vote for Judge Alito to become Justice Alito,” Frist said. “While the hallmark of the Senate is full debate, debate should not continue forever.”

Making any chance of a filibuster all but out of the question, two Democrats signed on Thursday to support Alito’s confirmation — Sens. Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Tim Johnson of South Dakota.

"Alito deserves the same deference that Republican senators accorded the Supreme Court nominees of President (Bill) Clinton,” Johnson said

They join pro-life Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and likely all of the 55 Republican members of the Senate in backing Alito’s bid to replace retiring pro-abortion Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

All three lawmakers are up for re-election this year.

Also, Alito meets on Friday with Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, who has met with him once already and wants a second meeting before announcing how he will vote.

Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas have also not announced how they will vote and Republican Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island haven’t either, but they oppose the use of a filibuster.

According to an AP report, Johnson and other senators are also advising party leaders to not engage in a filibuster and allow an up or down vote, something President Bush called for on Thursday at a White House press conference.

"He understands the role of a judge is not to advance a personal and political agenda," Bush said. "He is a decent man. He‘s got a lot of experience and he deserves an up or down vote in the Senate."

Other Democrats such as Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu and Ken Salazar of Colorado have said they won’t support a filibuster but will oppose Alito’s nomination.