Frist Starts ‘Working Group’ on Filibuster

Posted April 12, 2005 at 6:16pm

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) kick-started a more aggressive approach to the pending fight over judicial filibusters Tuesday, unveiling his Advise and Consent Working Group.

The working group will include a group of Senators who will take lead roles in pushing the issue. Their work began Tuesday with floor speeches by Sens. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) against Democratic filibusters. Frist’s press office also began issuing detailed memorandums on the issue of filibusters, including a point-by-point rebuttal of comments made by Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) after the weekly Tuesday luncheon.

The releases are superimposed on top of a document that appears to be the Constitution — an allusion to the GOP’s belief that filibustering judges is unconstitutional.

Frist acknowledged at his weekly press conference that in recent weeks, Democrats and liberal activists have been better organized in pushing their view that Republican use of a unilateral vote to end filibusters — the “nuclear option” — would violate Senate principles.

“We need to do a better job of getting information out to all of you,” he told reporters, noting that he has tried to stay out of the public debate recently. “It’s allowed the vacuum to be filled by other voices.”

Instead, Frist said that he would more proactively push the theme that Republicans are taking the principled view that every judicial nominee should get a straight up-or-down vote. “You’ll hear over the next several weeks — much more of that,” he said.

— Paul Kane