- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 21, 2001

The Senate yesterday approved President Bush's first batch of judicial nominees, and Majority Leader Tom Daschle pledged to speed up executive nominees stalled in the Democrat-controlled body.
Roger Gregory was approved 93-1 to a permanent seat on the U.S. Appeals Court, with Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, as the lone dissenter. Sam Haddon was approved 95-0 to the U.S. District Court in Montana, and Richard Cebull was approved 93-0 to the same bench.
Both Republicans and Democrats praised the confirmation of Judge Gregory, who was first nominated by President Clinton last year, but blocked by Republicans. Mr. Clinton bypassed the Senate and installed Judge Gregory to the bench during a December congressional recess.
Judge Gregory was appointed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The panel hears cases from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said Judge Gregory is "one of the few nominees ever nominated by presidents of different parties."
"President Bush deserves credit for renominating Judge Gregory and allowing the Senate a third chance to consider and confirm this outstanding nominee," Mr. Leahy said.
"We are at a historic moment here with Judge Gregory," said Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican.
Sen. George F. Allen, Virginia Republican, asked his colleagues not to view Judge Gregory based upon the former president's "political manipulations."
In his first Senate floor speech earlier this year, Mr. Allen asked that Judge Gregory be judged "on the basis of his qualifications."
Mr. Lott opposed Judge Gregory's nomination because he opposes all recess appointments, said Ron Bonjean, Mr. Lott's spokesman.
Senate Republicans have employed procedural stalling tactics on spending bills to force Democratic leaders to speed up the confirmation process.
Republicans were successful in getting 74 nominees confirmed in seven legislative days but have lists of more than 100 names still awaiting hearings and votes.
In exchange for the judicial nominee votes and 18 executive nominees approved late Thursday, Republicans allowed the Senate to proceed with three spending bills.
One Republican aide compared the tactic to a pace car allowing a race to begin.
Republicans stalled Senate business all day Thursday while negotiations continued over the nominees — frustrating Democrats in the process.
The strategy to link spending bills to nominees is necessary to get the process moving, Republicans said, and is endorsed by Mr. Lott.
"All I say to Democrats is: Welcome to the majority. This is what the minority does to the majority," Mr. Lott told reporters Thursday.
Despite the "tremendous amount of unfairness associated with the consideration of Clinton nominees" under Republican rule, Mr. Daschle said Democrats will be "fair" with Mr. Bush's nominees.
"The nomination process is going to be the subject, of course, of a great deal of debate," said Mr. Daschle of South Dakota.
"And I don't know what the total number will be, but over the course of the next week or so, we will have dozens more. And we'll continue to press to try to complete our work," Mr. Daschle said.
However, Mr. Daschle said senators have a right to "express themselves and use whatever parliamentary devices if they feel there is justifiable need for opposition."
Mr. Leahy said the delay in confirming judicial nominees was due to the reorganization of the Senate from Republican to Democratic control when Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont switched from the Republican Party to become an independent.
"I am sorry that we lost the month of June to the process of reorganizing the Senate, but I am proud of the very quick start that the committee has gotten on holding hearings and reporting nominees," Mr. Leahy said.
Dave Boyer contributed to this report.

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