Filibuster Showdown Averted – Everybody Wins, Nobody Wins

The filibuster showdown appears to have been averted, for now…

WASHINGTON (AP) – In a dramatic reach across party lines, Senate centrists sealed a compromise Monday night that cleared the way for confirmation of many of President Bush’s stalled judicial nominees, left others in limbo and preserved venerable filibuster rules.

Under the terms, Democrats agreed to allow final confirmation votes for Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor, appeals court nominees they have long blocked. There is “no commitment to vote for or against” the filibuster against two other conservatives named to the appeals court, Henry Saad and William Myers.

The agreement said future judicial nominees should “only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances,” with each senator – presumably the Democrats – holding the discretion to decide when those conditions had been met.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., called the agreement “legislative castor oil. It averts the showdown vote tomorrow, but I doubt it’s over,” he said.Dorgan’s right; the issue most certainly has not been completely resolved. As one news report put it, “they’ve done what the Senate does best, kicked the can down the road”… I expect the deal will fall apart when Democrats label the first Bush Supreme Court nominee an extraordinary circumstance…

Update: I’m still looking for a written version of the agreement. So far there’s been a lot of self congratulatory quotes from all manner of Senators, but no definitive wording of the agreement. Judging by early quotes there’s a lot that was left unwritten, presumably subject to the proverbial ‘gentleman’s agreement.’ Whether the 14 Senators can hold firm to their commitment not to use the filibuster and to keep the nuclear (constitutional) option off the table remains to be seen.

Update 2: Scared Monkeys sends along the compromise agreement [PDF – 145K], and has an extensive round-up of reactions.

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