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Debate Will Continue After 30 Hours Expire

The Senate will not gavel out of session at midnight, Republicans announced late Thursday, assuring a third straight day of debate over the qualifications of a handful of President Bush’s nominees to the federal bench.

Sens. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) plan to continue talking about the issue when the 30 hours of debate time expire at 12 a.m., and GOP leaders have given no indication as to when the Senate will gavel out of session.

“We will be in for as long as Senator Coleman and Senator Graham want to talk,” Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.) said.

The two GOP Senators will discuss their dissatisfaction with the Democratic filibuster of a handful of Bush’s nominees when the chamber enters a period of Morning Business as the 30 hours come to an end.

“At some point we will move out of executive session and we will go into Morning Business and at that point Senators who want to speak will be able to speak for as long as they want to speak,” Santorum said. “Senator Graham and Senator Coleman may speak for an hour [or] they may speak until the next morning.”

Santorum said he would join the Senators if they are still talking at “3 or 4 in the morning.”

“If Senator Graham and Senator Coleman are still going strong … I will join them later in the morning,” he said.

Democrats vowed to keep Senators on the floor to ensure that Republicans do not try to move from Morning Business back to executive session to quickly pass the judges.

“We will have at least one Senator on the floor at all times,” said Ranit Schmelzer, Majority Leader Tom Daschle’s (D-S.D.) spokeswoman. “Just like last night.”

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