US Senate: up-or-down vote for federal bench

At the moment when Democrats softened their stance for the first time on whether to allow votes on at least some of President Bush's previously blocked judicial nominees, Senate Majority Leader &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Bill Frist took a hard line yesterday, stating that he was not willing to back down on his demand that every single nominee for the federal bench should get an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.

Last session, Democrats blocked 10 of Bush's appellate court nominees with a procedural move known as a filibuster in which the minority party blocks a nominee by refusing to cut off debate. Bush renominated seven of those circuit court nominees. Frist, R-Tenn., has threatened that if Democrats continue to filibuster judges, Republicans will use their majority to strip Democrats of their ability to block controversial judicial nominees by changing Senate rules.

Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Frist have been negotiating for weeks to avoid Frist's proposed rule change, which essentially would change the votes needed to end a filibuster from 60 to 51 (Republicans have 55 seats in the Senate), publishes the Post –Gazzet. Majority Leader Bill Frist said yesterday that he will not compromise on the "constitutional principle" of giving &to=http:// ' target=_blank>judicial nominees final up-or-down confirmation votes on the Senate floor.

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