Friday, May 06, 2005

Reid Says He Doesn't Intend to Filibuster

Yahoo! News reported Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid has privately told individual Republicans he doesn't intend to block votes on any Supreme Court nominees except in extreme cases, according to officials familiar with the conversations.

Of course the Dems claim the 10 judges they are blocking are all extreme cases, even with the highest rating from the ABA.
At the same time, Reid has declined in private — as well as in public — to offer the type of firm no-filibuster assurance that might help him prevail over Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. in a struggle over President Bush's conservative court appointments and rules covering future confirmations. The disclosures illustrate the challenge facing the Nevada Democrat, who is struggling against a GOP attempt to change Senate procedures so court candidates can no longer be subjected to the 60-vote requirement of a filibuster.

As leader of a minority, Reid needs the support of wavering GOP senators if he is to force a compromise or win a showdown on the Senate floor. Yet he also must take into account members of his own rank and file as well as activist groups that are adamant about preserving their right to block votes on Bush's current and future nominees. "I can never say there will never be a filibuster because I cannot say that," he said recently on the Senate floor. "But I don't think this Senate is in the mood for a number of filibusters."
at least not more than 10, plus any Supreme Court nominees.
Captain Ed blogged So far the GOP hasn't bitten on Reid's assurances, and for good reason. Reid wants Republicans to trust his judgment on what he thinks "extreme" means, and he refuses to rule out filibusters or even to give any parameters under which he would endorse one. Given that the Democrats still plan to filibuster the seven nominees that Bush has named to appellate courts, this effort by Reid is as weak as it sounds. It's not a compromise at all, but a "trust me" offer that's laughable on its face.

The fact that Reid feels it necessary to make this effort shows how worried the Democrats have become over the upcoming Byrd Option by Bill Frist. The Senate returns from recess next week and Frist may immediately take up the confirmations of Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown, probably in that order.
I would prefer him take up Janice Rogers Brown first. Either will be filibustered, but it will hurt the Dems more to be filibustering a Black Woman
When the Democrats attempt to filibuster, as they have promised to do, Frist will appeal to the president of the Senate, VP Dick Cheney, for an interpretation of the Senate filibuster rule as to whether it applies to the Constitutionally mandated duty to provide advice and consent to the Executive. When Cheney rules the filibuster out of order, all it will take to overcome that interpretation will be 50 Senators and Cheney as a tiebreaker -- and both Mitch McConnell and Norm Coleman have assured the GOP that they have the votes to get there.

Reid cannot afford the loss of prestige that such a change will cost him. Nor can he afford to follow through on his threat to shut down the Senate with parliamentary obstructionism without incurring the ghosts of Newt Gingrich and 1995. In fact, such a manuever will only confirm the Democrats as knee-jerk obstructionists, an image which cost them dearly in the 2004 Senate campaign already. He needs to convince enough Republicans to pull away from Frist, but without giving up the option to block judicial nominees at whim. Those two requirements have proved mutually exclusive, which puts us back to where we were when the session began in January.

Now that Frist appears to have toughened up, Reid finds himself with few options except for noncommittal PR manuevers such as this. He may get even more flexible next week, but unless he's willing to come up with something that eliminates the filibuster, he's not saying anything at all worth repeating.

Kevin P commented Reid is telling the truth. He wouldn't use the fillibuster on supreme court nominees except for extreme circumstances. You just have to realize that every Bush nominee will be considered "out of the mainsteam" and thus be fillibustered because of the extreme circumstances. I don't know whether Frist has the votes or not but he has to pull the trigger. It is not a matter of trusting Reid. It's a matter of knowing that Reid will do everything to keep Bush's choices off the bench.

ERNurse commented Okay. Now is the time to increase the pressure on the Republicans to stand up for the people who elected them, and to flush the toilet on the era of minority- enjoyed hegemony that has been enjoyed by the liberal traitors at the nation's peril. We have to hammer home to the Republicans that we are watching every move they make, and the decisions they make with regard to the issues at hand will decide whether they stay on in Dee Cee or end up on their lazy butts come 2006. Our strategy at this time should follow the words of Fleet Admiral "Bill" Halsey: "Attack. Repeat: ATTACK!"

jwbrown1969 commented Reid is having an internal fit over the prospect of ending Judicial filibuster. He is so afraid that that he won't be able to stop W from appointing a Supreme in the near future that he will do almost anything.

Jayson @PoliPundit blogged After reading between the lines of this liberal-media polemic, I think it’s pretty safe to say the following: a) Harry Reid is real close to not having enough votes even to maintain filibusters in the first instance. b) Bill ("Limp") Frist either definitely has the votes necessary to “go nuclear,” or Reid and the media are very, very nervous about finding that out the hard way.

Marc commented I see that part of Reid’s strategy to woo on the fence Republicans is to call the President a “loser” as he travels overseas (at least according to Drudge). After all, what Senator wouldn’t love to have the leader of their party called a loser by the person they are trying to cut a deal with? Reid’s has a less than enviable political mind. And this is the best the Democrats can come up with, they are in more trouble than I thought.

Kenneth commented The GOP needs to change the Senate rule now, before any Supreme Court seats open. The Dems will surely filibuster whoever Bush nominates to the Supreme Court, and the rule will have to change then anyway. Might at well do it now and get the political backlash over with (might not be much anyway).

Armando @DailyKos: blogged Hmmm. I don't know how Reid has gotten AP to run this story, but I tip my hat to him. Update [2005-5-6 16:52:40 by Armando]: Or, the AP did its job for once. That could explain it too.

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