UPDATE: No deal yet, according to Lott spokeswoman.
Roll Call has the skinny on a proposed deal between a handful of Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans to stave off a looming break-the-filibuster vote. The two leaders apparently are Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). The proposal:
- six Dems and six Repubs sign on: as long as the group stays cohesive the Repubs can't break a filibuster and the Dems can't continue one
- the bargain: 4 of 7 currently stalled Circuit Court nominees get an up and down vote
- no further filibusters except in 'extreme circumstances'
There is a certain 'elegance' to this deal-it involves only a handful of senators and avoids a messy fight- but this is a lousy deal for the Republicans. Why?
As we noted here, two of the three who won't get a vote will be Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown. Why? The Democrats do not want to give the Republicans even more capital with women and minorities which the Bush administration has earnestly and copiously earned.
Most importantly, agreeing to a 'deal' when you are entirely in the right dilutes your position and emboldens the opposition.
And how in the bloody hell will they define 'extreme circumstances'? Gee, could it be when time comes to fill Rehnquist's seat or that of another Supreme?
[I intensely dislike this 'deal' but if they must and I were Lott's lead negotiator this is what I would hold out for:
1. Of the 3, the Dems get to select one and the Republicans 2. That way you are guaranteed to get either Rogers Brown or Owen or 2 of 3 of Pryor, Rogers Brown or Owen.
2. No filibusters on Supreme Court nominees
3. A limited number of 'pre-emptory challenges' to be used in 'extreme circumstances' in any session. [1 or 2]
Alternatively, give more room on 1. but conversely allow the Republicans to 'protect' a number of picks out of the 7.]