Monday, May 16, 2005

Reid: Nuclear Showdown Unavoidable. Nelson: Not So Fast

The Associated Press reports this evening that the prospect of compromise instead of the nuclear option grows dimmer by the hour. After a private meeting with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist Monday evening, Reid spoke to reporters and said "I've tried to compromise and they want all or nothing, and I can't do that."

Nearly simultaneously, the AP report adds, a "small group of Democrats" was circulating a proposed compromise, this version in writing. Under this new agreement, "Republicans would have to pledge no change through 2006 in the Senate's rules that allow filibusters against judicial nominees. For their part, Democrats would commit not to block votes on Bush's Supreme Court or appeals court nominees during the same period, except in extreme circumstances," and would agree to the confirmation of five of the eight judges currently under dispute.

Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska reportedly floated this plan last evening while at Senator Frist's home for dinner with other senators, including Reid. The AP reports that his office declined to provide details of the compromise and of which other Democratic senators were involved in the drafting of the plan; a spokesman for Arkansas' Mark Pryor, however said his boss was "the number two Democrat" behind the proposal.

Like the other proposals for compromise, this one is painful to both sides, but crippling to neither. I hope that enough Democrats and Republicans can unite behind it to turn it from a plan into reality. It's going to take leadership now, not partisan rhetoric, to bring us back from the nuclear brink - if Frist and Reid are unable to provide that leadership to get us through this storm, they ought to hand over the reins to senators who can.


At 10:23 PM, Anonymous John said...

I think this is very short sided of a handfull of power hungry Republicans. I agree with folks like Sen. McCain who undertsand that a liberal president with a liberal congress is inevitable. What do we do then when they only need 51 votes?

At 12:28 AM, Anonymous Simon said...

Kevin Patrick has some interesting comments about the constantly impending (and interminably dragged out) filibuster fracas over at

Do the Senate Republicans have the votes to use the "nuclear" option? Yes.
Should the Republicans employ this "last ditch" tactic to approve the judges? No
Will the GOP ultimately lose this "confirmation war" even if they win this nomination battle? Yes

The GOP's inability to properly read the ramifications of the first two questions is why the third question is the ultimately reality Republicans will suffer due to the short-sightedness of the current Senate leadership. If the GOP could simply learn from its recent past, it would be easy to see the Democrats have suckered the GOP into a contest they have every right to win, but can only do so (under current circumstances) in a manner that will erode the party from within. We have seen this story before and it turned out badly. It was the 1990 budget battle and it cost the George Herbert Walker Bush (41) the 1992 election as well as numerous Supreme Court nominees (which is what this is all really about).

Read more

I have to admit that I really do rather like this proposed strategy of making the other side actually talk; shut down the Senate for all other business and force them to mount a real filibuster. Ted Kennedy (for the sake of the cameras, best make it Mary Landrieu, actually), live on CSPAN, reading the telephone directory 24 hours a day, for a week, while Harry Reid tries to explain to the nation why this is so darned important that legislative business is, well, closed for business. There is a solution to the nominations crisis: 60 Republican Senators; force a real filibuster and we might get that.


At 12:12 PM, Blogger Heiuan said...

Simon, I clicked your link to your website. I was glad to see this idea being floated around.

I like Senator Snowe and I'd probably look very seriously at her qualifications.

LOL, I don't agree with many of your reasonings stated in the "why OS" section, but then I'm a Democrat, so go figure. :D

I do agree, however, with the conclusion. In 2008 it is going to take someone with the PROVEN track record of being a CONSISTENT moderate with a STRONG voice to bring our deeply divided nation back together again.

I hope you are successful in getting her to consider running.


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