November 5, 2004


Life After Daschle: Will a 55-seat majority be enough to end Senate obstructionism? ( KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL, November 5, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

The ideological shift has already come in handy in keeping certain troublemaking members in line. Ask Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania moderate known for giving his party migraines. Having won a tough re-election with fuel from the White House, Mr. Specter, who is due by seniority to take over the Judiciary Committee, chose to repay President Bush by warning him Wednesday not to send any controversial appointments.

By yesterday, Mr. Specter had done a 360 and released a contrite communiqué praising Mr. Bush's past nominees and promising any new ones a committee vote in 30 days. It seems his colleagues took him aside to remind him that not only does he need the party to vote him into that job, it can also throw him out. Mr. Specter may also be held in check, as will others, by the fact that 55 seats may give the GOP the right to a two-vote majority on certain committees, isolating party holdouts.

The harder question is whether the GOP has the goods to beat the 60-vote filibuster that was the Daschle trump card. Yet dig into the record and the stonewalling was never all that solid. The 51-strong GOP may not have been able to rustle up nine Democrats on any one issue, but they usually managed a handful. That's all they'd need now. The trick will be picking off the willing on an à la carte basis. Various tort reforms have had the support of Democrats like Dianne Feinstein, Tom Carper, Jeff Bingaman, and Blanche Lincoln. Drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge failed in a filibuster by only one vote, thanks to Democrats. Similar bipartisan support exists for bankruptcy reform, an energy bill and tax reform.

Just get rid vof the filibuster, at least for presidential appointments. It's merely a Senate rule and it is anti-constitutional.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 5, 2004 10:52 AM


I think Pryor, Lincoln, Landrieu, both Nelsons, and about 5 other Democrats will not participate in filibusters on nominees. Liberal Republicans like Chaffee, Snowe etc.. will oppose the nominees, but it will be difficult for them to support a filibuster.

Your constitutional argument needs to be presented to the Supreme Court. (it'll never happen because neither party will find it in their interest to take it to the court. The president won't either)

Posted by: h-man at November 5, 2004 11:46 AM


They write their own rules--they can change them

Posted by: oj at November 5, 2004 11:53 AM

The author of this article must belong to the Paul Krugman, Bush Does Not Have a Mandate, school of economics. I hope Spector did a 180, not a 360.

I'd like it better if the leadership did a deep six on Spector and elected someone else chairman. That would get the attention of the other turncoats and make for a much more pleasant relationship between the White House and the Congress.

Then perhaps poor Justice Rehnquist could retire. I fear his health has suffered waiting for the opportunity to further serve his county by hanging in there until Bush can have his replacement confirmed.

Posted by: erp at November 5, 2004 12:11 PM

A filibuster of the next Supreme Court nominee would be foolhardy and good for us and would not change the nature of the next justice.

Posted by: curt at November 5, 2004 12:22 PM

Bah, let's just go all out. 55-44-1 is enough reason to push some of those committee numbers from 10-9, 11-10, and 12-11 to 11-8, 12-9, and 13-10. Put an extra solid conservative on the Judiciary Committee, and worrying about Specter is much less important. Edwards was on Judiciary; just replace him with a new Republican. Problem solved.

Posted by: John Thacker at November 5, 2004 12:24 PM

Re previous post: "good for us" as in good for our side in the ongoing struggle.

Posted by: curt at November 5, 2004 12:25 PM

A filibuster of an obscure circuit court nominee is one thing, a filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee is far, far more difficult politically. The western/southern Dem senators will never risk it. The liberal GOPERs (other than Chafee) also will never do it.

Posted by: Bob at November 5, 2004 12:27 PM

Landrieu, Pryor, Lincoln, the Nelsons and probably Reid cannot afford to filibuster reasonable, though conservative and pro-life, nominees. If Chafee does, he should just get the boot from the caucus.

Posted by: Bart at November 5, 2004 7:40 PM