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The official armchair QB's filibuster thread.

 
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2005 06:28 am
I am not sure the game of "Chicken" is a good metaphor.

I don't think the Republican leadership is interested in compromise (and I say this in the most analytical non-partisan way possible). I also don't think that a real compromise interests the Democrats either, but the Republicans are in a special position that doesn't lead to a desire for compromise.

But, right or wrong, getting rid of the filibuster helps the Republican leadership.

First of all, it is no secret that Frist is setting up for a possible run at the White House. Him being seen nationally at the front of an issue that plays directly to his political base is nothing but good for this effort.

There is real power at stake here. If the Republicans change the Senate rules and weather any political outfall, they get a fine political reward. They further establish (expand) their power as the majority party and remember there are probably Supreme Court spaces at stake that are important to anyone with any political consciousness.

My read is that those in leadership think they can win this one. They feel they have the moral high ground, will win the public support they need and don't need to compromise.

It seems to me that the first judge called-- Owen-- was designed to provoke an early confrontation, perhaps with the objective of getting rid of the filibuster once and for all. There are several over justices on the list that the Dems could have approved. Owen is one of the judges that are simply unacceptable to the Democratic base.

An of course, even if they lose... playing to your base is very important especially if you plan to seek a presidential nomination from your party.

The huge issue for the Democratic base is the Supreme Court. If you are at all tied in to the Dems you know this from the press releases and mailing. The SC picks specifically in regards to civil rights and abortion tie into deep Democratic fears.

I think the Democratic party can not compromise on the issue of Supreme Court filibuster. This issue is extremely important to their base, and not fighting for this would be very politically damaging.

Because of this there is not that much room for compromise. The Democrats are offering to let some judges through while holding their trump card, but I don't think this really offers much. This has the most value as polical cover (as noted).

Fighting to save the filibuster also fits into a broader Democratic narrative. The Democrats want to be seen as the "minority, fighting an extremist Republican party run amok". Win or lose, this issue provides a platform to expand this narrative.

I don't think the leadership on either side wants a compromise.


The interesting part are the Moderates in the middle who possibly represent a threat to the leadership on both sides. They will make or break any deal... but will they really be willing to act outside of the strategy of their party leaderships?
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2005 07:29 am
Quote:

- Senators commonly refer to each other as distinguished. This week, the distinguished Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., compared Democrats to assassins. The distinguished Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., compared Frist to the crazed Roman emperor Nero.

Interest groups heaped on more fuel Thursday, targeting the small clutch of struggling centrists trying to avert an impending Senate meltdown over President Bush's judicial nominees and the Senate's use of its measure for stalling action, the filibuster.

"No Soft-centered Sell-outs to Avoid Democrats' Nuclear Reactor," warned Concerned Women for America. Chief counsel Jan LaRue accused GOP moderates of being "willing to jettison some of the nominees in exchange for a mess of pottage."


Source: SF Chronicle

More support for the theory that the core of either side would actually like a trainwreck. Makes for an interesting game of Chicken LOL. I don't know what this means for an outcome.

My suspicion is that the moderates will fail to reach a compromise. The big question is if Frist has the votes to effect a rule change. He may be able to use his leverage to pull it off.

(BTW- The first paragraph of this piece made me chuckle)
0 Replies
 
squinney
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2005 07:42 am
Concerned Women for America is a MAJOR Christian Right group headed by Mrs. Lehaye (think Left Behind series) so the appeal from that group is merely to the Christian Right base.

Saw a report the other day indicating Americans are only 33% satisfied with the job being done by our Reps in DC. The game plan is going to have to be more broad, on both sides, and may not work even then, as far as getting people to take action and start taking sides with their team.

Someone needs to order some little Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader outfits if they want the public to be in an uproar and not be disgusted.

Re: the game of Chicken - While the "Chicken Dance" is still quite popular, cock fighting has been outlawed in most places. Perhaps we need to let our Reps know about that.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2005 08:23 am
Text of Sen. Harry Reid's May 18 floor speech on the filibuster.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2005 08:28 am
He's no Galloway, but not bad at all. The reference to the Iraqi government official's "secret weapon" was especially choice.

Lovely ending:

Quote:
They want to do away with Mr. Smith coming to Washington. They want to do away with the filibuster. They think they are wiser than our Founding Fathers.

I doubt that's true.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2005 10:01 am
Carl Levin just gave a great speech. I can't recall the last time I enjoyed Cspan2 this much/at all.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2005 12:46 pm
Thomas wrote:
I agree, but whichever side shows a willingness to compromise first worsens the terms of the deal for itself. After some pondering what game is being played here, I have come to the conclusion that at the core it's neither football nor wrestling: It's "chicken". Knowing the players better than I do, who do you think will budge first?


I don't think it's a matter of "whoever blinks first". Showing a willingness to compromise doesn't worsen either side's position. Being the first to shut down compromise negiotations on the other hand, is a much bigger deal.

Schumer isn't making any backroom deals. His function is to be the public counter to Bill Frist. He beats his chest about how right the Dems are and Frist beats his about how right the Reps are.

While those two are busy doing there thing there is a Dem from Nebraska (I forget his/her name at the moment) and I believe, Sen Lindsey Graham as a Rep that are leading the backroom stuff. Both much quieter, low-profile, moderate and, IMO, intelligent.

CNN had an article eralier today saying they are close to a compromise that would have 6 Dems agreeing to vote for 5 of the 7 nominees (one of which would be Owens) and 6 Reps that would agree to vote no on a motion to repeal the fillibuster rule if Frist inststs on trying to bring the other 2 up for a vote. If that deal comes about the fillibuster rule remains intact and the Reps get 5 of 7 nominees including the one that the Dems have been claiming is the most conservative of the lot.

I'm not convicnced that either side could really claim that as a "win" but I'm sure both sides will try! Very Happy .
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2005 12:48 pm
I think no-filibuster is the biggest issue here, and if the nuclear option is defeated, that'd be a valid win for the Dems/ setback for the Reps.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2005 01:01 pm
One way it wouldn't be a win if this was all bluster to get the nominees through -- i.e. that the nuclear option was a sacrificial lamb, they didn't really want it, just pretended to to get what they wanted in the ensuing compromise.

Even so, perception-wise, they will have lost, and that could hurt them.
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2005 01:03 pm
sozobe wrote:
Lovely ending:

Quote:
They want to do away with Mr. Smith coming to Washington. They want to do away with the filibuster. They think they are wiser than our Founding Fathers.

I doubt that's true.


He forgot to mention that Robert Byrd did away with Mr. Smith coming to Washington some 30 years ago and the the Founding Fathers didn't have any fillibuster to use. Mr. Reid isn't so wise either. Wink
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2005 01:04 pm
Rhetoric, man, rhetoric!
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2005 01:08 pm
sozobe wrote:
I think no-filibuster is the biggest issue here, and if the nuclear option is defeated, that'd be a valid win for the Dems/ setback for the Reps.


Is it? If that's the way it goes down the Reps get 5 of 7 judges on the bench that were previously scuttled and there is nothing to prevent them from pulling out the "nuclear option" down the road again. If that's the case the Dems got over-ridden on 5 judges and end up right back where they are right now. I'm not so sure that's a setback for the Reps. I suppose it would depend on whether the public sees the fillibuster rule as more important than the judges or not.
0 Replies
 
parados
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2005 01:09 pm
fishin' wrote:
sozobe wrote:
Lovely ending:

Quote:
They want to do away with Mr. Smith coming to Washington. They want to do away with the filibuster. They think they are wiser than our Founding Fathers.

I doubt that's true.


He forgot to mention that Robert Byrd did away with Mr. Smith coming to Washington some 30 years ago and the the Founding Fathers didn't have any fillibuster to use. Mr. Reid isn't so wise either. Wink


The first congress DID have the filibuster. The Senate existed without a way to stop a filibuster until 1917 when the rules were changed to allow a cloture vote to close debate and end a filibuster.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2005 01:10 pm
fishin' wrote:
Is it? If that's the way it goes down the Reps get 5 of 7 judges on the bench that were previously scuttled and there is nothing to prevent them from pulling out the "nuclear option" down the road again. If that's the case the Dems got over-ridden on 5 judges and end up right back where they are right now. I'm not so sure that's a setback for the Reps. I suppose it would depend on whether the public sees the fillibuster rule as more important than the judges or not.


http://www.able2know.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=1348854#1348854
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 May, 2005 01:42 pm
parados wrote:
The first congress DID have the filibuster. The Senate existed without a way to stop a filibuster until 1917 when the rules were changed to allow a cloture vote to close debate and end a filibuster.


"20. See id. at Rule IX; Irving Brant, Absurdities and Conflicts in Senate Rules Are Outlined, WASH. POST, Jan. 2, 1957, reprinted in 103 CONG. REC. 17 (1957) ("From 1789 to 1806, debate on a bill could be ended instantly by a majority of Senators present, through adoption of an undebatable motion calling for the previous question."); accord 113 CONG. REC. 183 (1967) (statement of Sen. Kuchel) ("Every senate chamber in the State governments in this country has a majority rule to terminate debateĀ… . The Senate of the United States followed that rule in its early days.")."

See footnote 20 on page 213.
http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Gold_Gupta_JLPP_article.pdf
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 09:03 am
GOP Files Cloture Motion to End Debate
washingtonpost.com
GOP Files Cloture Motion to End Debate
Senate Action Would Put Judicial Nominees to a Vote

By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 20, 2005; 4:32 PM

The Senate's Republican majority today began a countdown to a vote that has been dubbed the "nuclear option," a decision on whether to end the ability of the chamber's minority to use filibusters to block the appointment of federal judges.

After a third day of debate on one of President Bush's most controversial judicial nominees, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) filed a cloture motion to end the debate and put the nomination to a vote. The cloture vote, scheduled for Tuesday, would trigger a series of steps leading to the "nuclear option" -- unless a bipartisan group of moderate senators succeeds in negotiating a compromise to head it off.

The cloture motion was filed by Cornyn on behalf of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who was traveling today. With strong backing from the White House, Frist wants to ensure that Bush's nominees to the federal bench get "a fair up-or-down vote" on the Senate floor, with a simple majority of the 100 senators deciding the matter, instead of allowing Democrats to block nominees through filibusters, which require 60 votes to break. Republicans say filibuster threats mean that, for practical purposes, a "supermajority" of 60 votes is required to confirm the nominees, rather than the traditional 51 votes.

After submitting the cloture motion, which was signed by 18 senators, Cornyn said there would be a fourth day of debate Monday on the nomination of Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla R. Owen to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans.

Cornyn rejected the idea that proceeding with a de facto rule change to end filibusters against judicial nominees would lead to a "constitutional crisis." He added, "This is a controversy, a disagreement, not a crisis." Once the matter is resolved by a majority vote, he said, "we should get back to work."

But Democrats have vowed to use other Senate rules, such as the need for unanimous consent to hold committee hearings, to tie up the chamber and prevent other business from going ahead.

In a floor speech preceding the cloture motion, Cornyn was critical of the bipartisan group of more than a dozen senators who have been trying to craft a compromise that would ensure votes on most of the contested nominees in return for preservation of the filibuster for use in "extraordinary circumstances."

The Texas senator said a resolution of the dispute should not be based on "some bogus suggestion, some deal cut by a handful of senators," that would "throw some nominees overboard" while leaving the main issue unresolved: the potential use of the filibuster to block a future Supreme Court nominee.

"Now is the time to resolve this issue once and for all," Cornyn said.

The cloture motion followed more than 25 hours of debate during the past three days, much of that discourse devoted more to the looming "nuclear option" than to the qualifications of Owen. Elevated to the Texas Supreme Court in 1994, she was nominated by Bush to a seat on the 5th Circuit appeals court in 2001, but was blocked by Democrats through filibuster threats. Democratic opponents asserted that she is too extreme and "out of the mainstream" in her conservatism to warrant a lifetime judicial appointment, charges that Republicans reject.

Owen was one of 10 Bush judicial nominees who were blocked through filibuster threats during his first term. Three subsequently retired or withdrew, and Bush resubmitted the nominations of the seven others. Of those, Democrats continue to oppose five, including Owen.

Throughout the past three days of debate, Democratic senators pointed repeatedly to the Senate's approval of 208 of Bush's judicial nominees. Instead of being satisfied with a 95 percent success rate, the highest for a president's judicial nominees in the past two decades, Bush has shown that he wants to have everything his way, the Democrats charged. By comparison, Republicans blocked 69 of President Clinton's judicial nominees during his two terms, Democratic senators pointed out.

For Republicans, the key issue is that the 10 blocked nominees enjoyed "majority support" in the Senate, but were blocked through what the GOP calls an unprecedented pattern of filibustering that, in effect, has set a higher threshold for confirmation. With 55 Senate seats, the Republicans can easily approve Bush's nominees by a simple majority, but lack the party-line votes to break a filibuster.

As described by Senate sources, the nuclear option would be triggered if, as currently expected in the absence of a compromise, the Republicans fall short of the 60 votes they need to end debate on Owen on Tuesday. At that point, Frist would rise to make a point of order that debate on a judicial nominee should be limited and call for an end to the Democratic delays.

Vice President Cheney, as the presiding officer of the Senate, would rule in Frist's favor, prompting Democrats to appeal. Frist would then move to table the appeal, and the Senate would vote on that motion, which is not subject to debate. If the motion passed by a simple majority, the Senate would then vote at a specified time on the nomination of Owen, with a simple majority required to confirm her. If the motion failed, the nomination would not come to a vote.

Thus, the vote on the motion would set a new precedent for ending filibusters, effectively circumventing the Senate requirement of a two-thirds vote -- 67 senators -- to change the body's rules. This de facto rule change would be the "nuclear option" so dreaded by Democrats and some Republicans.

In today's debate, Democratic senators said they placed no stock in Frist's promise that the use of filibusters would be denied only for judicial nominees. They raised the prospect that filibusters would also be effectively abolished for executive nominees and legislation, fundamentally changing the character of the Senate as a body in which minority rights are protected and lawmakers are forced to compromise.

If Frist's effort succeeds, "any future Senate could use the nuclear option to change Senate rules," said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.). "The character of the Senate would be destroyed as a uniquely deliberative body."

Levin warned that "this nuclear option . . . will cause a permanent tear in the Senate fabric" and "produce a deeply embittered and divided Senate."

"Do not take this fateful, unprecedented and misguided step that is being proposed," Levin told fellow senators. "I urge my colleagues to reject the reckless course of the nuclear option."

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and one of the GOP senators involved in negotiations with Democrats, said the chamber today "has the feel of a Hollywood stage set," with a relentless countdown to a nuclear blast. But no movie hero will emerge to save the day, he said. Instead, "it is up to us to save the Senate."

Specter repeated his call for a compromise in which Frist and Senate minority leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) would "liberate their caucuses to vote without party straightjackets." Without party-line votes, Specter said, he was convinced that "most Democrats would reject obstructive tactics" of using filibusters to block nominees, and "most Republicans would reject the nuclear option to change the Senate rules."

Noting that the "systematic filibusters" by Democrats were initiated as "payback" for the blockage of Clinton's nominees, Specter said the first step in resolving the dispute is for Republicans and Democrats "to concede publicly that both parties are at fault."

Specter said, "The option of a filibuster for really extraordinary circumstances ought to be retained, but not for a pattern of getting even." He said he hoped the nuclear option vote could be avoided, because "either way the vote comes out, it will be harmful to the Senate."

If the motion fails, he said, "it will embolden the minority party to recklessly misuse the filibuster," possibly to scuttle such nominations as that of John R. Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. If it passes, "it will embolden the appointers to having greater latitude in the nominees that will be submitted," Specter said.

Referring to the U.S.-Soviet nuclear standoff during the Cold War, the senator said, "If the United States and the Soviet Union could avoid nuclear confrontation . . . so should the United States Senate."
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 May, 2005 07:27 pm
A deal has been reached between 7 members of each party to avoid a showdown tomorrow.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/23/filibuster.fight/index.html
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 May, 2005 08:05 pm
Thanks for breaking news, fishin'.

Analysis?

Quote:
Under the deal, judicial nominees would only be filibustered "under extraordinary circumstances," McCain said.


Quote:
"We will try to do everything in our power to prevent filibusters in the future," McCain said.


That's all pretty ambiguous. What extraordinary circumstances? What does "everything in our power" mean?

Great news, though, as far as I can tell.
0 Replies
 
Brand X
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 May, 2005 08:07 pm
sozobe wrote:
Thanks for breaking news, fishin'.

Analysis?

Quote:
Under the deal, judicial nominees would only be filibustered "under extraordinary circumstances," McCain said.


Quote:
"We will try to do everything in our power to prevent filibusters in the future," McCain said.


That's all pretty ambiguous. What extraordinary circumstances? What does "everything in our power" mean?


Exactly. I think it's just another way of saying a picture of all their testicles will be on the sides of milk cartons tomorrow.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 May, 2005 08:20 pm
More here, looking pretty good:

Quote:
The agreement said future judicial nominees should "only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances," with each Democratic senator holding the discretion to decide when those conditions had been met.


In other words, whenever they damn well please.

Oh, except:

Quote:


(I wonder if it was my letter that swayed Mr. DeWine? :-))

So where are we now -- Dems can do whatever they damn well please, BUT if Reps think that they're not upholding their end of the deal, they'll try to change the filibuster rule again. Pff.

Overall, I think it's good news.
0 Replies
 
 

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