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May 23, 2005
George Allen Predicts Byrd Option Tomorrow

Despite the media grandstanding of John McCain in attempting to fashion a compromise that winds up tossing judicial nominees under the bus, fellow GOP Senator George Allen predicts that the Senate will be forced to adopt the Byrd option and rule filibusters out of order for judicial confirmations. Allen told ABC yesterday that the Republicans have the votes to do it on Tuesday:

Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, said yesterday that he doesn't think a compromise can be reached with Senate Democrats and predicted his party has the 51 votes needed to employ the so-called "nuclear option" that will prevent the filibustering of judicial nominees.

"I just think that it is not that big of a deal for senators to exercise their constitutional responsibility," Mr. Allen said on ABC's "This Week." "I think that we'll get the constitutional option done, and we'll vote on judges."

Also yesterday, Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, answered "yes" when asked on CBS' "Face the Nation" whether his party "has the votes to overturn this Senate rule."

In fact, the Democrats have already come to that conclusion. As the Washington Times notes, the Democrats in recent days have dropped the threat of stopping Senate business, spooked by the widespread comparisons to Newt Gingrich and 1995. Now they reject even the notion of a slowdown, as Chuck Schumer declared:

"We are not going to attempt to shut down the Senate," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat and early architect of the filibusters. "We are not going to attempt to slow down the Senate."

The new Democratic plan for retaliation, Mr. Schumer said, will be to "implement our strategy of basically trying to use the Senate rules to put items on the agenda that the American people care about."

"We are going to attempt to use the rules -- as well as outside pressure -- to force the Senate to take up agenda items that we haven't done before," said Mr. Schumer, who now heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).

That represents a significant climbdown from their earlier threats, and one that clearly shows they expect to lose. In truth, the Democrats had nothing to offer the GOP for a compromise. They refused to foreswear filibusters in the future in exchange for picking off one or two of the nominees, and without that, the GOP could not trust them to exercise any discretion of its use, especially given their track record. They've blocked a third of Bush's appellate-court nominees by filibuster, including several with the highest ABA ratings, an abuse that will cost them access to that tactic in the end.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 23, 2005 6:19 AM

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