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CBC Opposes Senate Deal

The Congressional Black Caucus on Tuesday announced its opposition to a Senate deal aimed at preventing a showdown on the so-called nuclear option, calling the agreement “more of a capitulation than a compromise.”

The 43-Member CBC, led by Chairman Mel Watt (D-N.C.), is also penning a letter today to the 100 Senators urging them to oppose the judicial nominations of Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor. Those nominees, expected to come up for consideration in the coming days, were guaranteed an up or down Senate vote as part of Monday’s agreement.

The CBC argued the two nominees “have documented histories of opposing rights of African Americans and of hostility to the broad mainstream of law and rights enacted by the Congress over the past 75 years.”

The letter of dissent from the CBC comes on the heels of last night’s deal between seven Democratic and seven Republican Senators short-circuiting the standoff over the filibuster rule. That bipartisan group agreed to keep the current rules in place, but allow for a series of votes on President Bush’s judicial nominations and the use the filibuster to block appointments only in “extraordinary circumstances.”

Watt, in a statement, said the CBC believes that deal is “a temporary filibuster ceasefire” that ultimately will give Bush a green light to push through his judicial nominees without proper consideration. That, he wrote, is a “capitulation.”

“The only way to make a bad deal worse would be for these judges to succeed in getting the 51 percent of the Senate votes they need for confirmation,” Watt said.

“Even under the terms of this deal, these nominees can go on the bench only if they get the majority of the Senate to approve them.

“We will be looking closely at the votes as they occur and expect any senator who seeks our support and the support of our constituents to reject the judges who have rejected the obligation to protect our rights,” the letter states.

The CBC has been a leading opponent to any changes to the filibuster rule in the Senate. The group opted to weigh in on the debate late last month with an aggressive lobbying campaign aimed at Democratic and Republican Senators. The CBC at that time encouraged Senators to oppose any changes to the current filibuster rules.

CBC members have said they worry that any changes to the filibuster rules could spell disaster for black Americans who more than most rely on a fair and impartial judiciary.

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