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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs