Senate Democrats reject Frist's filibuster proposal

April 29, 2005|By Maura Reynolds | Maura Reynolds,LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON - In a piece of parliamentary choreography that moves the Senate closer to confrontation, Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist offered yesterday to give Democrats 100 hours to debate judicial nominees on the condition that they permit each nominee a vote.

Sen. Harry Reid, the minority leader, immediately rejected the offer but said he was willing to continue discussions.

"I don't really like the proposal given, but I'm not going to throw it away," Reid said.

Frist had long pledged to make a compromise offer, which has been widely viewed as a final gesture before Republicans proceed with what has become known as the "nuclear option" - changing Senate rules to prevent Democrats from filibustering judicial nominees.

"It may not be a perfect proposal for either side, but it's the right proposal for America," Frist said.

But Reid said the proposal violated his bottom line of a filibuster - a tactic used by a minority of senators to block a vote by refusing to end debate - must remain intact.

"Thanks for the offer, but I think it was a big, wet kiss to the far right," Reid said.

For his part, with a Supreme Court vacancy expected this summer, Frist made clear that he was also not willing to budge on his bottom line - that Democrats not be able to block votes on judicial nominees.

"Senators have a duty to vote up or down on judicial nominees. Confirm them or deny them - but give them all the courtesy of a vote," Frist said.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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