Senators Reach Deal to Avert a Showdown on Judicial Nominees
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 8:20 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Averting a showdown, centrists from both parties reached agreement Monday night on a compromise that clears the way for confirmation votes on many of President Bush's stalled judicial nominees, leaves others in limbo and preserves venerable Senate filibuster rules.
''In a Senate that is increasingly polarized, the bipartisan center held,'' said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn.
''The Senate is back in business,'' echoed Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of 14 senators who signed the two-page memorandum of agreement, which cited ''mutual trust and confidence.''
Under the terms, Democrats would agree to oppose any attempt to filibuster -- and thus block final votes -- on the confirmation of Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor. There is ''no commitment to vote for or against'' the filibuster against two other conservative nominees, Henry Saad and William Myers.
As for future nominees, the agreement said they should ''only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances,'' with each Democrat senator holding the discretion to decide when those conditions had been met.
''In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement,'' Republicans said they would oppose any attempt to make changes in the application of filibuster rules.
Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada welcomed the agreement -- although he hastened to say he remains opposed to some of the nominees who will now likely take seats on the appeals court.
''We have sent President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the radical right of the Republican party an undeniable message....the abuse of power will not be tolerated.''