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As Democrats Begin Owen Filibuster, Frist Sets Up Thursday Cloture Vote

Like Miguel Estrada before her, Priscilla Owen saw her nomination to the federal bench stall in the face of a Democratic filibuster Wednesday.

But Republicans, led by Conference Vice Chairwoman Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), showed their determination to see Owen ascend to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before debate resumed.

“A filibuster will not weaken our resolve to grant her the vote she deserves,” Hutchison said, sounding the Republican mantra that all judicial nominees should get a straight up-or-down vote.

Owen is the second judicial nominee put forward by President Bush to face a filibuster. Democrats repeatedly have blocked Republican attempts to vote on Estrada, who was nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Four times they have denied Majority Leader Bill Frist’s (R-Tenn.) cloture motions, which, if approved, end debate and force the Senate to vote on the pending issue.

Frist filed for cloture on the Owen nomination Tuesday, meaning the Senate will vote on whether to end debate Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, Democrats are working hard to prove that they do not oppose all of Bush’s nominees by moving for a vote on Edward Prado. But the Senate rebuffed Minority Leader Tom Daschle’s (D-S.D.) effort Tuesday.

Prado was also nominated to the 5th Circuit.

“We may disagree on the Owen nomination,” Daschle said, “but there is no reason we should not pass those nominees for which there is agreement, so let’s pass Judge Prado”

Prado was unanimously voted out of the Judiciary Committee.

The Senate did confirm Jeffrey Sutton to the 6th Circuit on Tuesday.

“There were those who supported Mr. Sutton. Many of us opposed him … but as we consider judicial nominees, it is important that there be a recognition of the record that has already been made with regard to judges during this administration,” Daschle said Tuesday. “In that time, the Senate has confirmed 119 judges out of 121,” he stressed.

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