Hugh Hewitt wonders whether the deal ending the fight over filibusters is terrible deal, a bad deal, or a very, very marginally ok deal. I vote for “very bad.” The problem lies in the commitment not to support the rule change in this Congress. It probably ensures that the Democrats will continue to block most of the president’s conservative appeals court nominees. President Bush should respond with aggressive recess appointees.
I heard Senator Graham claim that he still has the right to vote to change the rules if the Democrats abuse filibusters. But, in light of the language of the deal, this statement appears to be disingenuous. Graham doesn’t get that right (which he probably doesn’t want anyway) until the next Congress. The Democrats get to skate past their latest defeat at the polls and hope for better things in 2006. Why didn’t Graham and his crew simply back off from the “nuclear” option for the time being, and see if the Democrats started behaving more responsibly? The comparative wisdom of that approach is apparent from the fact that Graham is trying to pretend that this is what he did.
I’m also doubtful that, even if the Republicans hold their own or gain seats in 2006, they will put an end to the filibusters. As noted above, they just don’t have it in them.
The claim by Senator Graham and others that we need to get this issue behind us in order to proceed with the Senate’s business is laughable. The Democrats will be emboldened by this “compromise” and will continue to obstruct. This Congress will accomplish little beyond what it already has, and that isn’t much.
Finally, and most importantly, the president probably will be unable to get a Supreme Court Justice confirmed this session unless he appoints a moderate. And barring Republican gains in 2006, he probably will be unable to appoint a conservative Justice at all.
Senator Graham and his friends have likely given away one of the president’s most important powers — the power to nominate Supreme Court Justices of his choosing and get an up-or-down vote on them. I hope they enjoy the praise they are about to get from the Washington Post and the New York Times.
JOHN adds: This is the key language. It is absolutely sickening. It promises the Democrats that the Republicans will not stop the filibuster during this Congress. It recognizes the filibuster of judges as a legitimate tool. And it blames President Bush for the Democrats’ obstructionism. I’ve seen worse documents, I suppose, but it’s hard to think of one offhand:
A. Future Nominations. Signatories will exercise their responsibilities under the Advice and Consent Clause of the United States Constitution in good faith. Nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.
B. Rules Changes. In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress, which we understand to be any amendment to or interpretation of the Rules of the Senate that would force a vote on a judicial nomination by means other than unanimous consent or Rule XXII.
We believe that, under Article II, Section 2, of the United States Constitution, the word