Seems like there are a number of people of both sides who are upset by this compromise. Count me as one of them. Why the Democrats want to give "moderate" Republicans cover is beyond me.
Guys, they're still Republicans!
Nuclear Option Avoided
US Senate deal averts historic showdown on judges By Thomas Ferraro and Joanne Kenen
23 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fourteen Senate moderates struck a deal across party lines on Monday to avert a historic confrontation and pave the way for confirmation of several of President Bush's stalled judicial nominees.
The deal, which pointedly urges the White House to consult with the Senate in picking judicial candidates, was reached with less than a day to spare before a showdown vote on a possible rule change so controversial it has been dubbed the "nuclear option."
Republican leaders had threatened to strip the minority Democrats of their power to block Bush's candidates for the federal courts.
Had Republicans prevailed -- and it was unclear whether they had the votes -- Democrats vowed to retaliate by raising other obstacles that could have tied the Republican-led, 100-member chamber into knots.
"Armageddon has been avoided. Thank God," said Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record), a New York Democrat.
Signed by seven Democrats and seven Republicans, the "memorandum of understanding" declares that procedural roadblocks known as filibusters against judicial nominees will only be used in the future "under extraordinary circumstances."
"Each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether the circumstances exist," the 14 senators agreed.
The issue has assumed major political significance because at least one retirement is expected from the Supreme Court in the near future.
Special-interest groups from across the spectrum had joined the battle, as the federal courts decide many cultural and social issues, such as abortion rights and gay rights.
The group of moderate senators committed to clearing the way for confirmation votes on three long-stalled nominees to the federal appeals courts -- Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor. Their backers have long maintained that they have majority support, but Democrats called them too conservative.
The group explicitly did not commit to allow votes on two other nominees, William Myers and Henry Saad, so they may have to be scuttled.
With some conservative and liberal groups opposed to compromise, Sen. Lindsey Graham (news, bio, voting record), a South Carolina Republican and one of the negotiators, said, "People at home are going to be upset at me for a while."
The moderates crafted their deal a week after talks between the Senate's top two leaders broke down.
"This agreement is based on good faith, good faith among people who trust each other. And it's our complete expectation that it will work," Ohio Republican Sen. Mike DeWine (news, bio, voting record), flanked by fellow negotiators, told a news conference in announcing the accord.
"We have lifted ourselves above politics," said Sen. Robert Byrd (news, bio, voting record), a West Virginia Democrat who took part in the talks. "I say, thank God."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the deal represented "progress." He added, "We will continue working to push for an up-or-down vote on all our nominees."
A simple Senate majority is needed to confirm a nominee, but 60 votes are required to cut off a filibuster.
The bipartisan accord provided enough senators on both sides of the political aisle to enforce a carefully worded compromise.
Republicans had accused Democrats of unprecedented obstructionism by blocking 10 of Bush's appeals-court nominees in the last Congress.
Democrats had fired back that Bush and his fellow Republicans were trying to pack the courts with right-wing extremists and ignoring Senate customs on bipartisan consultation and compromise. Democrats also noted that they had helped confirm about 200 other Bush judicial nominees, most of them to lower courts.
In their agreement, the 14 lawmakers urged the White House to consult with members of both parties before submitting judicial nominees for consideration.
"Such a return to the early practices of our government may well serve to reduce the rancor that unfortunately accompanies the 'advise and consent' process in the Senate," they wrote.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, embraced the compromise and said it should deliver a message to Bush: "He should have a little more humility."
"We're not looking to pick a fight with President Bush; he shouldn't be out looking to pick a fight with us," Reid said.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, accepted the accord but noted it fell short of what he said is the Senate's duty to give all nominees an up-or-down vote.
"I fundamentally believe that it is our constitutional responsibility to give judicial nominees the respect and the courtesy of an up or down vote on the floor of the United States Senate," said Frist, a potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate who has been under pressure from right-wing groups to get more conservatives on courts.
The Senate on Tuesday, as previously scheduled, will vote on Owen, a Texas Supreme Court justice, to a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A Frist aide said the Senate would move swiftly on other nominees as well.