Daily Kos
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Thursday | February 13, 2003

Estrada filibuster officially on

The Dems are actively filibustering the Estrada nomination -- a process that will likely extend into the weekend as the Senate Dems and GOP play a game of political chicken.

The opposition is being plotted by Daschle, Reid, and the Dems on the Senate Judiciary Committee. As a member of that committee, John Edwards is taking a laudable high profile on the issue.

Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- including Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking member, and Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, John Edwards of North Carolina, Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, Dianne Feinstein of California and Schumer -- met with Daschle and his whip, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, last week to come up with the Democratic strategy for the upcoming floor battle.

Many of the same players met again Tuesday night with Daschle and Reid to firm up the plan.

Things are looking really good for the Dems, who have only seen a handful of defections. One of the fence-sitting Senators, Mary Landrieu, learned the hard way the results of acting Republican-Lite. She has signed on to the filibuster, despite fallout from a campaign ad promising to support Estrada. Her retort? She'll support him if he answers questions.

The GOP has 51 votes, and three Dems have vowed to confirm Estrada (Breaux, Nelson and Miller). That leaves the GOP six votes shy of the needed 60. Blanche Lincoln is still on the fence, but even with her defection it would leave the GOP five votes shy. GOP hopes to get support from FL's Graham are dead now that he's set to announce his candidacy for president. Rookie Senator Prior (AR) is a possibility, though Democrats claim he is firmly in the filibuster camp. Jeffords appears to be sticking with the Dems.

Perhaps the best comedy of the night came from Orin Hatch, who singlehandedly kept dozens of Clinton's judicial nominees off the bench through parliamentary proceedures:

Democrats "can vote against him. That is their right. And if that is what they want to do, that is the proper exercise of their constitutional duty," Hatch said.

"But to simply deny the Senate a vote is unfair to the nominee, it's unfair to this body, it's unfair to the president, it's unfair to the majority of senators who want to vote for this man."

Hatch may very well be the biggest hypocrite in the GOP.

It may well be time to reform how the Senate handles judicial nominations. But any such reforms need to wait for the next president. The GOP can't pursue an obstructionist agenda against Clinton, and then cry fould when the Dems turn the tables on Bush.

As for now, the Dems are playing by rules written by Hatch and his party during the Clinton years. The more it hurts, the more it serves them right.

Posted February 13, 2003 09:03 AM | Comments (101)


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