US Senate to Vote on Judge at Heart of Filibuster Deal

The U.S. Senate Tuesday prepared to vote on one of President Bush's long-stalled judicial nominees, a day after a group of bipartisan Senators reached a compromise averting a showdown on the nominations.

The Senate voted to end debate on the nomination of Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen for a seat on the federal appeals court, clearing the way for her confirmation.

The action was made possible by a deal brokered Monday night by a bipartisan group of 14 Senators. 

Justice Owen, first nominated by Mr. Bush four years ago, is one of a number of judicial nominees blocked by Democrats who argued they were so conservative as to be out of the mainstream.

Before the compromise was reached, Senate Republican leader Bill Frist had scheduled a vote Tuesday to ban the use of the filibuster, or delaying tactics, for judicial nominees, and move toward a confirmation vote on Justice Owen.  Democrats, denouncing the plans as a power grab by majority Republicans, pledged to use other procedural moves to slow the work of the Senate.

Under the deal, Democrats agreed to allow up-or-down votes on three of five contested judicial nominees, including Justice Owen, and vowed not to use the filibuster except in extraordinary circumstances.

Republicans agreed not to change Senate rules on the use of the filibuster during the rest of the congressional term, through the end of next year.

Both sides called on the White House to consult with Congress on future nominees.

Although President Bush does not get the up-or-down votes he wanted for all his judicial nominees, he welcomed the deal during a visit to Rochester, New York.

"I'm pleased that the Senate is moving forward on my judicial nominees who were previously being blocked.  The nominees have been waiting years for an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor and now they will get one.  It is about time we are making some progress," said Mr. Bush.

It is not clear how long the compromise will endure.   It could have an impact on future Supreme Court nominations, with a retirement expected later this year.

The 14 Senators who brokered the deal say the agreement is based on faith and goodwill.  Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, played a key role in the compromise:

"This agreement was meant in the finest traditions of the Senate it was entered into:  trust, respect, and mutual desire to see the institution of the Senate function in ways that protect the rights of the minority," said Mr. McCain.

Majority Leader Frist, a potential presidential contender in 2008 who was under pressure from conservatives to guarantee votes on all of Mr. Bush's judicial nominees, said the deal was modest progress.  But, noting that he was not a party to the agreement, said he would not rule out banning the filibuster for judicial nominees if the Democrats did not abide by their end of the bargain.

"I will bring it out once again, and once again I will set a date to use it, if that is what it takes to move this body forward, we will do that once again," said Mr. Frist.

Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid, who was also not a party to the deal, did not rule out blocking future judicial nominees put forward by Mr. Bush.

"There will be filibusters of judges and other things, that is what the Senate is all about," said Mr. Reid.

Mr. Reid suggested Democrats may also use the filibuster to block Mr. Bush's nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, whose nomination could come before the Senate later this week. Democrats have criticized Mr. Bolton for efforts to shape intelligence to meet ideological ends.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs