- The Washington Times - Friday, June 15, 2001

Senate Republican negotiators late yesterday declared an impasse in their talks with Democrats on President Bushs judicial nominees and said it was time to move forward with an up-or-down vote on the new Senate organization.
"We are only asking for fairness," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.
The negotiators said the next move is up to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, on whether to call a vote.
Republicans want the resolution to reflect the three points on which both parties agree, and the two contentious matters voted on independently as amendments to the resolution.
Republicans said the full Senate should have the opportunity to make a determination and that they would not filibuster if the resolution is voted down.
"Were simply asking for there to be a vote. When we have fundamental differences, we vote," said Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican.
Both parties agree Democrats will have a one-seat majority on every committee, with the exception of the Ethics Committee, which by tradition is equally divided.
All committee members will retain their assignments, and committee funding and space agreements negotiated by the chairmen and ranking members will remain in effect.
Democrats do not agree with Republicans that "blue slips," or single-senator veto slips on judges from home-state senators, should be eliminated.
Democratic leaders turned up the pressure yesterday on judgeships, accusing the GOP of holding up White House nominations by not submitting to the Democrats proposal to reorganize the Senate.
"Theyre making my life easier," said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "For the life of me, I dont know why they keep waiting. Im ready to start (confirmation hearings) within 10 days to two weeks of the time that we reorganize."
Republicans say Mr. Leahy, one of the partys most liberal lawmakers, is a prime example of why they are pressing Mr. Daschle for assurances that Mr. Bushs nominees will be treated fairly. Mr. Leahy was one of the most outspoken critics of John Ashcrofts nomination for attorney general in a bruising confirmation hearing in January.
In two weeks of talks, Mr. Daschle has resisted Republican requests to promise floor votes on appeals court candidates and Supreme Court nominees if the Judiciary Committee rejects them. Mr. Daschle says he will hold up a deal to reorganize committees with Democratic majorities until both sides agree on the issue of nominations.
Democrats say Senate Republicans are only hurting their own administration by not accepting Democrats more vague, nonbinding assurance to be fair to nominees.
"Unfortunately, what that means is that action in the committees on virtually anything is unlikely," Mr. Daschle said yesterday. "We wouldnt be able to do nominations or legislation. Were going to … probably be faced with a bottled-up array of , but we wont be able to do that."
Asked if he is "jamming" the White Houses agenda, Mr. Daschle replied, "Thats not my choice. I think it would be inexcusable for us to disenfranchise elected members of the Senate who were serving on these committees just a week ago, and now to tell them they cant vote. That isnt my jamming them, that is simply a reality; thats what senators are here to do, is to make decisions."
Referring to the new majority partys power to investigate the administration, Mr. Daschle added, "In the meantime, well be satisfied, I suppose, with the opportunities to hold oversight hearings and other kinds of hearings. …"
For example, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, has used his new chairmanship of the Governmental Affairs Committee to hold a hearing on the administrations refusal to set energy price caps in California. Mr. Lieberman, who lost his bid for the vice presidency last year and is considered a likely presidential candidate for 2004, also plans to hold hearings on Mr. Bushs environmental policies.

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