23 May 2005

Senate reaches deal on filibusters - Winners & Losers

Following the close of business today, a bipartisan group of 14 senators reached a deal [PDF] on filibusters in the United States Senate, thereby preventing the showdown scheduled for tomorrow. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) had planned to implement the "nuclear option" tomorrow to end debate on two judicial candidates who were nominated by President George W. Bush.

The term "nuclear option," which was coined by the Senate Rules Chairman, Senator Trent Lott (R-Mississippi), described the plan to eliminate the use of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate for judicial nominees. The bipartisan group, led by Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), announced their compromise during a press conference at approximately 7:15 PM this evening.


At first glance, the agreement appears to benefit the Democrats. The filibuster is preserved, and the Democrats have guaranteed an up or down vote for at least three of the ten filibustered nominees. Two of those nominees are not guaranteed to receive up or down votes. The Democrats reserve the right to use the filibuster for future judicial nominees in "extraordinary circumstances." Furthermore, the signors of the agreement will determine when an "extraordinary circumstance" exists.


The American people. Republicans had threatened to eliminate the traditional procedure of the judicial filibuster, and Democrats threatened to retaliate by slowing the Senate to a halt and putting forth their own ideas for chamber business. Perhaps the assertion that the American people won with this compromise can best be supported by looking at the blogs. Bloggers from the extreme right and the extreme left are "extremely" upset. This usually means that the majority of Americans in the middle are in good shape.

Conservatives Complain

While the liberal bloggers are still waiting to see what happens, conservative bloggers are furious.

Captain Ed of Captain's Quarters says, "it's a significant victory for Reid. He just smoked Frist, and now he's using that hard-won "comity" to blast Bush and Cheney for power grabbing and perverting the Constitution. Yeah, great going, GOP."

Michelle Malkin has included a graphic on her blog of a belt buckle that has the image of an elephant with the words, "Republicans Buckle."

Scared Monkeys says, "Compromise reached! Republicans screwed!"

John Hinderaker of Power Line, who broke the Dan Rather story, says, "To me, it looks like a pathetic collapse on the part of the Republicans--not the leadership, but Senators like McCain who sold out their party."

Hugh Hewitt says, "It is impossible to say whether this is a "terrible" deal, a "bad" deal, or a very, very marginally "ok" deal, but it surely is not a good deal."

Matt Margolis from Blogs for Bush says, "THIS DEAL SUCKS... EVERY NOMINEE DESERVES AN UP-OR-DOWN VOTE!!!"

Liberals Complain

Eschaton is not happy and says, "I don't know about you, but I don't like it."

TalkLeft says, "Total capitulation by Democrats. Total victory for Frist. Let them spin it how they want, it's a loss for the Democrats."

Wonkette says, "Deft Senate centrists craft a filisaving deal that disappoints everyone equally."

The Daily Kos actually views the deal as a good thing.

Unfortunately, most liberal blogs are taking the night off, but you can get some idea of how the left-wing extremists feel by reading the comments on the blogs above.


Majority Bill Frist. Frist lost huge. He set the bar too high and was able to meet expectations. Frist told America that he demanded an up or down vote on ALL nominees. He clearly lost and let down the religious right. They will not forget that he failed to deliver. President Bill Frist ain't going to happen.


Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). Reid did the opposite of Frist; he set the bar low. His only goal was to preserve the filibuster for future nominees, especially a possible nominee to the United States Supreme Court. Many liberals were upset that he set his goals too low, but his strategy appeared to pay off today. In his press conference after the announcement of the deal, Reid was essentially able to look into the TV camera and say that he won.


Senator John McCain. This choice may be shocking for some, considering that McCain led the bipartisan group to developed the compromise. He would be a "winner" if he was not running for president in 2008. John McCain just wrote off any chance of winning the GOP nomination for president, not that he had much of a chance before.


Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-Rhode Island). Senator Chafee has been under attack for not being in lockstep with the Republican leadership. Of course, he is in no better shape than he was before the deal was met, but the heat has now been taken off of him. As far as conservative anger, there are too many others that are in the rank and file Republicans' sights, and therefore, Chafee has somewhat of a pass.


Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina). Senator Graham has been considered a maverick in recent years - one who is not only willing, but actually seems to look forward to, bucking the Republican leadership. During the announcement, he spoke out against the White House and demanded that the Senate be heard. While his comments are responsible, they break from the typical GOP talking points. Don't be surprised if Graham has a primary challenge in 2008.


Senator Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia). Senator Byrd, the longest serving member of the Senate, has taken a lot of heat from the right-wing extremists and has been labeled a liberal wacko. Tonight at the press conference, Senator John Warner (R-Virginia), one of the more conservative members of the Congress, treated Byrd like he was a king. When Byrd spoke this evening, he was practically treated like royalty by members of both parties.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings. I really wanted these bad judges to get blocked, but I heard that the Ds didn't have the votes to prevent the nuclear option. If this is true, then the deal is a victory. Still, I wanted to force the Rs to exercise the nuclear option, because I think it would have been seen as going too far.

9:55:00 AM  
Anonymous tdog said...

Now that the dust has settled, it is pretty clear that Bill Frist lost pretty bad. Now with the stem cell bill getting rammed down his throat, he is looking pretty undependable to the religious right.

I guess we just saw the end of Frist for President 2008!

12:14:00 AM  

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