Tags: Democrats | Hold | Power | Over | Judicial | Nominees

Democrats Hold Power Over Judicial Nominees

Thursday, 31 May 2001 12:00 AM

The decision, which was widely expected, was announced as the staff for incoming Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., detailed the new organizational structure for the Senate, which will include a one-seat Democrat majority on each committee.

Republicans, led by outgoing Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., have floated the possibility that they might insist on the ability to force floor votes on nominees if Democrat opposition keeps them stuck in committee hearings. But staff for Daschle said that this would not be acceptable because the GOP lacked the necessary leverage in votes and because Democrats have, thus far, allowed nominees to get floor votes, even in the face of substantial opposition to the nominee.

"That idea has yet to be brought to us," said one staffer. "I could see it if we had been blocking nominees, but we haven't. If we'd wanted to filibuster [Solicitor General Ted] Olson's nominee, we had the votes and didn't. That should indicate that we're committed to full and fair deliberation."

The rest of the new organizing resolution, which will be considered by the Senate early next week, allows for a one-seat majority on each Senate committee for Democrats and names West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd as Senate president pro tempore, a mostly ceremonial position that is third in line to the presidency.

The possibility exists that some committees might have to be reduced, rather than increased, in size to accommodate the new Democrat majority because they are already unwieldy in size, a staffer said.

"We need to figure out what to do about that," he said. "The Armed Services Committee is already 24 members, and the dais only holds 22 people. I think this can be worked out fairly easily."

Democrats will argue that in the 1950s a closely divided Senate organized in favor of the Republicans in a similar manner. Whether the GOP would object to the structure remains unclear; a spokesman for Lott did not return phone calls for comment.

The power transfer comes on the heels of Vermont Republican Jim Jeffords' announcement last week that he would become an Independent and organize with the Democrats, making the GOP the minority in the previously evenly divided body.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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The decision, which was widely expected, was announced as the staff for incoming Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., detailed the new organizational structure for the Senate, which will include a one-seat Democrat majority on each committee. Republicans, led by...
Democrats,Hold,Power,Over,Judicial,Nominees
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2001-00-31
Thursday, 31 May 2001 12:00 AM
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