Frist to Invoke Cloture This Morning

Bump and Update: As anticipated, Frist kicked off the nuclear option today by moving to end debate on Priscilla Owen's nomination - called a motion or petition for cloture. The clock is ticking.

Original Post 6:30 am

The next stage of the Nuclear Option begins this morning when Sen. Bill Frist will move to invoke cloture on the Democrats' speeches about judicial nominee Priscilla Owen.

Shortly after the Senate convenes this morning, Frist, R-Tenn., will file a cloture petition, which requires the approval of 60 of 100 senators, to end debate on Owen's nomination. Last session, Democrats blocked Owen and nine other appellate court nominees. He has renominated seven of them this year. Under Senate rules that petition must "ripen" for two days while the Senate is in session -- today and Monday -- before a vote.

If no Democrats jump ship, the petition will fail because it needs 60 votes and there are only 55 Republicans. In that event, here are the next steps [direct quote].

  • If the cloture vote fails, Frist would direct an inquiry known as a "point of order" to the Senate's presiding officer, who is likely to be Vice President Dick Cheney. In the inquiry, Frist would argue that after extensive debate on a nominee like Owen, filibusters of judicial nominees are out of order.
  • Cheney or the presiding officer would presumably rule that Democratic filibusters of nominees are indeed out of order and that only the votes of a simple majority of senators should be required to end debate on a judicial nominee.
  • The Democrats would object to the ruling by Cheney or the presiding officer.
  • Republicans would move to table -- or set aside -- the Democrat's objection. Tabling the objection would require a simple majority vote and Cheney could cast the tie-breaking vote.
  • If the Republicans succeed in tabling the motion, they will have set a new precedent. From that point forward only a simple majority vote will be needed to end debate on judicial nominees. The Senate would then move to a vote on Owen's nomination.

If the compromise measure passes, six Democrats will vote for the cloture motion and it will pass with 61 votes. If Frist then moves for his point of order, six Republicans will vote against it. It will lose, and the right to filibuster will be retained, but only for the duration of the 109th Congress - until 2006.

If the compromise succeeds, there will be up or down votes on the seven judges previously rejected: Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, former Alabama Attorney General William Pryor, Idaho lawyer William Myers and Michigan nominees David McKeague, Richard Griffin and Henry Saad. I'm hearing that the compromise calls for only William Myers and Henry Saad to be rejected.

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    Re: Frist to Invoke Cloture This Morning (none / 0) (#1)
    by Lora on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:14 PM EST
    Don't hold your breath....tell me again, exactly how are the Senate Democrats different from the Republicans?

    Re: Frist to Invoke Cloture This Morning (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:14 PM EST
    Now they are saying not until Tuesday so the reclaim America for Christ crowd doesn't have it together yet

    Re: Frist to Invoke Cloture This Morning (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:14 PM EST
    For more data on GOP obstruction of Clinton judicial nominees and a road map for the nuclear option, see the Judicial Filibuster Resource Center.

    Re: Frist to Invoke Cloture This Morning (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:14 PM EST
    I don't think there's any doubt that the "nuclear option" will come about next week. These so called compromises are never going to happen. It's just a waste of time. I'm kind of excited about it, something new and different from the usual pontificating that goes on with the Senate.

    Re: Frist to Invoke Cloture This Morning (none / 0) (#5)
    by glanton on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:14 PM EST
    Yes, Suka, there's a lot to be excited about with the ascension of judicial lepers like Prissy and Janny. To begin with it will open the floodgates for scads of Antonin clones. And to put an exclamation mark on the entertainment..... Coming soon to a ruling near you: No right to privacy, no consumer rights, no workers rights, no separation of church and state. Cool for states to search bedrooms for contraceptives and evidence of sodomy. Cool for controversial art venues to be targeted by the IRS. Let's stop the boredom! Start tearing down any and all rights to claim a free nation, and as soon as possible.