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."
He gave them a left handed middle finger.
Now weren't we told in 04 that we should support Specter because he is a Republican. Same goes for Collins and Murkowski. Alaska had a chance to elect a real conservative but they went with a RINO. And Sununu knocked off a real conservative and now we are questioning his loyalty. The Republican party is a total joke.
If you call Snowe or Collins, and happen to let on that you are either pro-Life, a Christian, or oppose homosexaul marriage, not only does yur opinion not count, you will not get mail, your email address will be blocked and your phone messages deleted automatically if you call directly in from yur home or office phone.
And that includes newspapers, our contact Elisha in Collins office refuses to return my calls or the calls of the publisher. But then again we refuse to publish their bull without thier first answering our questions or responding to our questions.
Its time for a Rove Nuclear option. All RNC funding stripped and suspended from their campaigns.
Because there is no level of scumbaggery that a Democrap will not support!
The worst thing that could happen at this point is for Frist to initiate this option and then not get 50 votes. Come to think of it, I would like the Democrats to start doing quorum calls all day. Under Senate rules, even if 51 is officially quorum, you have to have all 100 accounted for. Let him do quorum calls all day and shut down the govt. The less the Congress works, the better off conservatives are. Conservatives win one way or another. It is not an entirely bad idea.
Specter couldn't care less. He just pulled a number on Rove and Bush in 04. He came off smarter in this deal.
The AP may have a clue, afterall they have been reporting on politics for how many years, but they may be trying to do some Dem cheerleading.
good point, but remember, an independat repub = maverick, an independent Dem (like Nelson) = no national media time.
They are not going sto stop until we do something about it. Something like this:
From the article;
In 1802, the Jeffersonians, faced with courts deliberately packed by the Federalists, passed the Judiciary Act of 1802, which abolished over half of all the sitting federal circuit judges. The act didnt impeach them; it simply said their jobs didnt exist. They wouldnt be paid, so they shouldnt bother to show up. The judges were deeply offended. They promptly went to court, and the remaining federal judges essentially said, if we overrule the Congress, theyre going to abolish our jobs.
Zell Miller? Evan Baye?(sp?)
These cats live on RNC money. They are always raising it.
Hate to break it to you, but Zell Miller is happily retired in Georgia.
Bayh will not desert. Zell is retired. The Democratic Senator that will break ranks is Lieberman.
Alaskans almost kicked your butt to the curb because they didn't like daddy giving you the seat. President Bush is the reason you have that seat, which will only last 6 years if you have pretensions of being a Maverick. Perhaps, Ms. Murkowski, you might consider looking at the margin the president won by...and the margin you almost lost by to a Clintonite no less. That tells you exactly what most Alaskans think of you and this statement confirms it justified.
Scrap the list folks. Contact ALL Senators. Until that vote is taken you never know who will stab in the back.
Though as much as my blood heated reading these opportunistic cowards' statements, the article itself feels pre-packaged. Just because they are enjoying being unprincipled to get good coverage in the MSM doesn't means the votes aren't there.
There ought to be three Republicans in those states announcing a run for those seats. JUST a mere announcement(even if years away). Then the President should visit each of those states and merely have lunch with them and leave the state without even waving "HI" to the current RINOS. That might send a message.
If Frist brings the rule change to a vote, I fully expect there will be enough RINOS that vote with the Dems to kill the rule change. Those RINOS will also not tell Frist how they plan to vote so that it blindsides him and makes him look stupid and weak. The Dems play for keeps, it's time that the Republicans give these RINO's an offer they can't refuse. If it takes FBI files or videotape so be it.
The only way a Democrat breaks ranks on a deal breaker issue such as Judges, bolton, or S.S. is if they are ready to cut ties completely with the Party. Because the Party WILL cut ties with them. If any in the Dem Party ever considered it, it would be Leiberman or Nelson.
Leiberman wouldn't become a Rep, but he might go Independent. He IS a Liberal, but he could pull off the switch better than Jeffords ever did by being a crucial swing vote. Nelson would become a Republican to win re-election.
Lieberman won't break ranks with the Dems. They have his FBI file and know where all his campaign money comes from.
It all comes back to leadership. If the Majority leader cant rally his troops in the battle for their very existence, he is useless. Because that what the filibuster vote is about. If we compromise, the Dems win, and everyone will know the minority has beaten the majority again. I used to be one of thsoe people that said vote "R" no matter what. Spring of 2005 showed me how wrong that notion is. I didnt work my ass off to see Mcain and Hagel derail our efforts.