Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist called a rare, impromptu press conference on the floor of the Senate to tell the media that he will not accept any compromise which does not include up-or-down votes on all of Bush’s judicial nominations. Presumably this closes the door on the extended negotiations that had taken place between Frist and Minority Leader Harry Reid, as the Democrats have already insisted that they should retain the right to block so-called “extremists” from the bench:
Reacting to a Democratic offer in the fight over filibusters, Republican leader Bill Frist said Tuesday he isn’t interested in any deal that fails to ensure that the Senate votes on confirmation for all of President Bush’s judicial nominees.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid had been quietly talking with Frist about confirming at least two of Bush’s blocked nominees from Michigan in exchange for withdrawing a third nominee. This would have been part of a compromise that would have the GOP back away from a showdown over changing Senate rules to prevent Democrats from using the filibuster to block Bush’s nominees.
But Frist, in a rare news conference conducted on the Senate floor, said he would not accept any deal that keeps his Republican majority from confirming judicial nominees that have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“My goal is to have fair up and down votes. Are we going to shift from that principle? The answer to that is no,” Frist said.
Fine and good. Now will someone tell me what their negotiations covered during the past three months? It cannot have taken 100 days of this session to reach the same positions that existed at the beginning of this session — that the GOP would insist on majority vote, and the Democrats would block appellate nominees any way they could. If it takes that long for both Reid and Frist to get back to square one, then maybe both caucuses need to question the efficacy of their leadership.