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Filibuster deal is sucktastic


Bill “Cat Killer” Frist pretty much got what he wanted, except in “extraordinary circumstances.”

WTF kind of deal is this? It doesn’t sound like a deal at all.

Centrists Republicans and Democrats reached a compromise Monday night to avoid a showdown on President Bush’s stalled judicial nominees and the Senate’s own filibuster rules, officials from both parties said. These officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the agreement would clear the way for yes-or-no votes on some of Bush’s nominees, but make no guarantee.

Under the agreement, Democrats would pledge not to filibuster any of Bush’s future appeals court or Supreme Court nominees except in “extraordinary circumstances.”

For their part, Republicans agreed not to support an attempt to strip Democrats of their right to block votes.

Under the agreement, Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen, nominated to a seat on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, would advance to a final confirmation vote.

Senate Republican leader Bill Frist has made her a test vote in a bruising showdown over the fate of several appeals courts nominees that Democrats blocked in the past and had threatened to block again.

With the series of climatic vote set for Tuesday, compromise-minded senators of both parties met in the office of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for a last stab at compromise. The compromise drew the support of six Republicans and six Democrats at a minimum, although the names were not immediately available.

Under a complicated situation in effect on the Senate floor, that meant that Democratic opponents would lack the support needed to sustain a filibuster against Owen and other nominees. At the same time, it meant Republicans would not be able to strip Democrats of their ability to filibuster.

The agreement came as majority leader Frist, R-Tenn. and Democratic leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. steered the Senate toward a showdown on Bush’s nominees and historic filibuster rules, under which a minority can prevent action unless the majority gains 60 votes.

There currently is no vacancy on the high court, although one or more is widely expected in Bush’s term. Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s coincidental presence in the Capitol during the day was a reminder of that. At age 80 and battling thyroid cancer, he entered the building in a wheelchair on his way to the doctor’s office.

OK. The Repugs agreed not to support a removal of the filibuster. How long do you think it will take for them to renege on this one if a Supreme Court vacancy actually materializes. The hard right AmTaliban is salivating at the chance to get a wingnut on the Court. They will not back down one iota.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding