Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Debate, Round 2

I'm starting a new post for the remainder of today's debate since the one below was getting a little bit long. For the first part of the day's discussions, click here. Debate on the Owen nomination has now resumed after an hour's recess, and Texas' John Cornyn has taken to the floor to defend the Owen nomination. He's arguing for an up-or-down vote on the nomination, saying that the Fifth Circuit is suffering a "judicial emergency" because the seat Owen has been nominated to fill remains vacant.

[Update: Orrin Hatch of Utah, former chairman of the Judiciary Committee (including during the Clinton years when the committee blocked 69 judicial nominees) has taken over from Cornyn, saying of Owen "she would do this country proud as a federal appeals court judge." He calls the objections against her "unfair and untrue," brought on by "outside interest groups." -- 5:03 p.m.]

[Update: Hatch: It is the "groups" that oppose Priscilla Owen that are "outside the mainstream," not Owen herself. -- 5:13 p.m.]

[Update: Oklahoma's James Inhofe is up to bat, indulging in a nice round of resume-reading before poking at the Democrats who demanded up-or-down votes on judges during the Clinton years, noting "somehow something has changed between then and now." Oh, the irony! Yes, the Democrats were calling for up-or-down votes in the 1990s when the Republicans were blocking nominees! And now the shoes are on the polar opposite feet. Does this escape Senator Inhofe somehow? -- 5:32 p.m.]

[Update: John Ensign, Republican of Nevada, has begun a floor statement. He is making the somewhat useful argument that nominees ought not to be blocked in committee (as was done during the Clinton years) or on the floor; he suggests that the entire process be examined, since the current way of dealing with nominees "is driving away qualified candidates " for executive and judicial positions. This is an excellent point, and one I could certainly get behind: a comprehensive look at the appointment process (with changes to begin say in 2009, or something). Ensign has completed his remarks, and the Democrats take control for the next 90 minutes. First up, Mark Dayton of Minnesota. -- 5:46 p.m.]

[Update: Dayton begins his speech with one of my very favorite bits of doggerel,
How a minority
Reaching majority
Seizing authority
Hates a minority.
"A president who said he was going to change the tone in Washington ... does just the opposite." Echoing Inhofe's statement from earlier, Dayton remarks on the shift in position that the Republicans have undergone (although he obviously wasn't watching Inhofe since he fails to point it out explicitly). "Their blocking tactics are good, but ours are bad. ... How convenient," Dayton quips. -- 5:52 p.m.]

[Update: Dayton's speech was excellent, if cliched; and I've just found a full quote from part of Senator Leahy's statement earlier (here, in a new Washington Post update article): "The Senate's rules should not be toyed with like a playground game of king of the hill." Washington's Patty Murray takes over for her statement. -- 6:03 p.m.]

[Update: Murray has yielded to Minority Whip Dick Durbin, who seems to have figured out exactly where the C-SPAN camera is so he can look directly into it. The nuclear option is "a bold move," Durbin says, which would break down the wall between the executive and legislative branches. It's been 25 years since any president has had as high a confirmation rate for judicial nominees (208-10) as Bush has had, Durbin notes, "but that's not enough. He wants them all." He wonders "is it the water in the Washington, the water from the Potomac - does it creat political amnesia?" -- 6:16 p.m.]

[Update: Durbin, speaking of the need for six Republicans to join Democrats in order to defuse the nuclear option, comments "Those six Republicans ... will be remembered. ... It won't be popular ... but at that moment in time when we are tested to do the right thing even when it isn't popular, we like to think we will do it. I hope they will do it." -- 6:40 p.m.]

[Update: Murray's regained the floor to finish her statement. I'm going to take a short break, but I'll stay tuned into the debate and if anything important is said, I'll be back. -- 6:45 p.m.]

[Update: Senator Coburn spoke after Murray completed her statement. Coburn's speech was followed by a lengthy quorum call, and then Senator Frist returned to the floor and dealt with other matters. He announced that tomorrow's session will follow a similar pattern to today's: they'll come into session at 9:30 a.m. with time divided throughout the day. -- 8:01 p.m.]


At 11:23 PM, Blogger EG said...

A change to the appointment process in 2009 would require that session of the Senate to enact. The current session of Congress cannot set rules for a future session of Congress.

At 7:05 AM, Blogger JBD said...

Ah right - fudge. Does make sense though, you wouldn't want this Congress deciding for the next that they had to come to the floor wearing Mickey Mouse ears or something I suppose :-)

At 7:13 AM, Blogger EG said...

Now that's something I would get behind!


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