Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Senate Compromise - Rules Changes

The compromise agreement provides that the signatories "commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress". This means no rules changes through 2006. In effect, the Democrats achieve their primary objective to preserve the option to filibuster judicial nominations.

If the Democrats claim "extraordinary circumstances" to filibuster a future nominee, things will get interesting. I think the Republicans have set themselves up for a possible fall. Though the "extraordinary circumstances" language provides lots of wiggle room for the Democrat signatories to support a filibuster, the "commit" and "continuing commitments" phrases give very little wiggle room for the Republican signatories to support a rules change. The Democrats can always claim "extraordinary circumstances", which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder; but the Republicans will not so easily be able to justify support for a rules change.

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