Skip to comments.7 GOP Senators Key in Filibuster Fight
Posted on 05/14/2005 1:57:34 PM PDT by FairOpinion
WASHINGTON - Seven Republican senators will determine the outcome of a showdown this week between the president and Congress and a minority within it over who is going to shape the federal courts.
Barring any unforeseen developments, these are the lawmakers in the make-or-break position when it comes to deciding whether to allow a Senate minority to block a president's nominees for the federal bench.
The senators are Susan Collins of Maine, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, John Warner of Virginia, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Sununu of New Hampshire.
At issue is an effort by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to ban judicial filibusters. The Senate's Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, wants the ability to block nominees for the Supreme Court and lower courts whom his party views as outside the legal mainstream.
The seven Republicans have not committed publicly to supporting either Senate leader.
All 44 Senate Democrats, joined by independent Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont and three Republicans, have said they oppose curtailing a Senate minority's ability to block the president's judicial nominees with just 41 votes in the 100-member Senate.
Frist, R-Tenn., has 45 of the Senate's 55 Republicans on his side.
During President Bush's first term, Democrats succeeding in blocking 10 of his judicial picks. Both Bush and First are making the case now that it should take only a simple majority 51 votes, rather than 60 now for a nominee to win confirmation for a lifetime appointment to a federal appeals court or the Supreme Court.
For Democrats to prevail, they need the support of three of the seven undecided Republicans. Frist needs five votes from five of those Republicans so Vice President Dick Cheney could have the chance to break a tie in favor of Bush's position.
Frist said Friday he will bring up the first of the blocked nominees Texas judge Priscilla Owen and California judge Janice Rogers Brown this week.
Some of the seven Republicans, including Collins, have made up their mind but are not saying how they will vote. Warner and others say they have yet to decide and hope they will not have to.
"I'm always working on the issue," Warner said last week. "I'm hopeful the leaders can reach a compromise. I'm optimistic we can reach a compromise."
So far, only Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island have broken party ranks, expressing concern about a change that could permanently reduce minority rights in the Senate. Vote counters in each party say Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine also is likely to side with Democrats.
Democrats insist there are other Republicans who support the Democratic position but do not want to say so publicly. Republicans note that all the other GOP senators who started out publicly uncommitted Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Ted Stevens of Alaska and Richard Lugar of Indiana, for example now side with Frist.
Warner is the last of the powerful GOP "old bulls" in the Senate not to say he will join with Frist. Warner has said repeatedly that he worries that ending the judicial filibuster will weaken the Senate.
"I tend to be a traditionalist, and the right of unlimited debate has been a hallmark of the Senate since its inception," Warner said. "Without question, though, I am strongly opposed to the use of the filibuster to block judicial nominations."
Liberals and conservatives are focusing on Warner and other undecided Republicans through telephone calls, Internet campaigns and television advertisements.
Conservative groups such as Progress for America and Focus on the Family have spent millions of dollars on ads since mid-April in Alaska and elsewhere trying to persuade undecided Republican senators to support Frist.
Murkowski said those efforts have backfired with her.
"I was very offended at the tone," Murkowski said. "But they've continued, and it's been kind of interesting. I've probably gotten more positive feedback for my position, which Alaskans consider to be very thoughtful, very deliberate, about what is happening here in the Senate."
The liberal group People for the American Way says Murkowski is "the last defense against an attack on our Constitutional checks and balances."
"Alaska counts on Senator Murkowski to do the right thing. Now, the whole country is counting on her," according to an ad that the group plans to run this week. The $1 million television campaign also will mention Snowe and Collins in Maine and Specter in Pennsylvania.
DeWine sees power in not having committed to either side.
"I've decided. I just haven't announced it yet because I think that it's a good chance that we can get it worked out," DeWine said. "I'm hopeful that by not announcing it, I can help keep these negotiations going."
One option for the undecided senators could mean joining with Sen. Ben Nelson (news, bio, voting record), D-Neb. He is trying to convince 12 Republicans and Democrats that they should block Frist from banning judicial filibusters and also stop Reid from filibustering all of Bush's contentious nominees.
In the end, Murkowski said, the question has to be about the Senate, not politics, the president or the party.
"We have to remember that our decision has to be in the best interest of the institution as a whole," Murkowski said. "Not in the best interest of the Republicans, not in the best interest of the Democrats, but in the best interest of we as senators and the institution itself. I think that's what we should keep in mind."
Those of you in the states of the critical, wobbly Republican Senators, may want to let your views known.
Seven Republican senators may hold the fate of President Bush's judicial nominees in their hands as the Senate nears a final showdown over whether Democrats can keep filibustering controversial White House court appointees. They are from top left, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Rep. John Sununu, R-N.H., Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.; from bottom left: Sen. John Warner, R-Va., Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio. (AP Photos/Files)
The arch traitor Warner has sold out the Republican party before.
"Frist, R-Tenn., has 45 of the Senate's 55 Republicans on his side. "
Frist needs to learn to reign in the rogue Republican Senators! 10 Republican Senators not being with the majority is a disgrace!
It seems these 7 haven't made up their minds yet, at least not officially, but there are 3 Republicans who will definitely vote with the Democrats. I don't know who those are.
"All 44 Senate Democrats, joined by independent Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont and three Republicans, have said they oppose curtailing a Senate minority's ability to block the president's judicial nominees with just 41 votes in the 100-member Senate."
"So far, only Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island have broken party ranks, expressing concern about a change that could permanently reduce minority rights in the Senate. Vote counters in each party say Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine also is likely to side with Democrats."
Oops, I found the three traitors, who are certain to vote with the Democrats.
What is the matter with these people?!
After last week's performance by Voinovich with Bolton's nomination, he should be included on the RINO list as well.
I'm surprised to see Sununu on this list.
Nice military base you've got there, Senator. Be a shame if something happened to it ...
AP cheerleading campaign for RINO defections begins...expect to see *many* more stories like this in the coming week...
Given that, Frist would not have issued his statement this week putting an immediate timeline on the "constitutional option." Unless Frist is a total dummy, he would not have thrown down the gauntlet unless he was SURE that he had the votes to make it work.
Several Republicans will, disgracefully, desert their party and their President at a critical time. But the "option" will succeed, by a vote of either 51-50, or 51-49. This is a done deal, but the AP doesn't have a clue.
The "RINO Wall of Shame".....they shall be known by the company they keep. NOT A PENNY TO THEM!
I wholeheartedly concur. Frist would NOT have been so decisive if he didn't already have the necessary votes.
Sometimes, when you call a senator's office they ask where you are located. If you name a state other than the one the particular senator represents, they will tell you that your opinion really doesn't matter.
Should that occur, take the time to note to the person that when a Senator strays and goes against the will of the majority, the money they spend from their state to his state to prevent his next reelection can be a factor.
I don't send money to the campaign committee of Senators in states where they historically vote my beliefs unless they are in special need of help (Thune). But I will spend even more to help vote out a particularly impudent piece of shit like john (I am a hero because I crashed a billion dollar airplane) mccain in a state I don't live in to rid us of that menace to freedom.
I can't believe I actually helped this bitch in her tv and radio ads. I would rather have a Democrat. At least he or she would stand by their party's principles.
I've been wondering if Hagel might be feeling some pressure at home after a Federal Judge tossed out Nebraska's amendment banning gay marriage.
I wouldn't think the people of Nebraska appreciated the Judge's decision very much.
Bush could not have made his vote more secure with the Portsmouth threat.
BINGO - Exactly what is happening - All seven of these GOP'ers are being offered all types of "love" piece type articles if they will switch and vote with the DEM's (by ALL in the MSM).
But notice how NONE of the DEM's are being tagged by the MSM to possible defect from the DEM position. (it is such a joke how bias the media are). We don't see any articles trying to persuade Democrat Ben Nelson from jumping.
Nevertheless, these 7 GOP'er better stand firm.
How come the Democrats have zero trouble mustering monolithic support from their caucus when the chips are down, and those very same moments are the times when the GOP caucus goes to pieces?
Fire all of them.
The last I heard she was undecided and after yesterdays base closing announcements, we heard that she was so mad that she..., well, just let it surfice to say she was not happy.
We lost NAS Brunswick, Naval Sub repair depot Porstmouth, the finace center at Loring and a couple of other things, not counting the loss of building the next generation Destroyers at bath.