Monday, May 23, 2005

Senate Showdown: This Time We Mean It

The prospect of Bill Frist launching the nuclear option has been looming for so long that it began to feel that doomsday would never come. But tomorrow, Senator Frist is planning to have the Senate vote on chaging the rules to end filibusters for judicial nominations.
Even though Minority Leader Harry Reid has been talking with Frist every day, other senators are in the forefront of efforts to find a compromise:
Every morning last week, Reid stopped by Frist's office or at least called the GOP leader, just to check in. Aides say the Nevada Democrat deals regularly with two other Republicans: Whip Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the chief Republican negotiator in the compromise talks.
Reid also has named key Democrats as emissaries to the three Republicans that both sides consider the swing voters. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, is working on Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the panel and a co-sponsor with Leahy of a complicated asbestos bill working its way through the Senate. Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) is assigned to Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) has been teamed with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). Warner chairs the Armed Services Committee, and Collins chairs the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee; Levin and Lieberman are the ranking Democrats on those panels.


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