- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 6, 2001

A Senate panel yesterday approved five of President Bush's judicial nominees and eased bitter feuding between Democrats and Republicans over the backlogged process.
Mr. Bush has submitted 64 district and circuit court nominees to the Senate for confirmation a record number of first-year nominations over the past three administrations.
However, the Democrat-controlled Senate has confirmed only 18 judges a confirmation rate of 28 percent angering Republicans who have used myriad procedural tactics to push confirmations.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Judiciary Committee chairman, has asked Senate leaders to expedite confirmation of the five approved yesterday, plus nine nominees approved last week. That would bring the confirmation rate to 50 percent 7 percent shy of former President Bill Clinton's nominees confirmed during his first year in office.
"During these last six difficult months, the committee has worked hard to report 27 judicial nominations favorably to the Senate, including six to the Courts of Appeals," said Mr. Leahy, Vermont Democrat.
Approved and sent to the floor for final consideration yesterday were: Callie V. Granade to be U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of Alabama; Marcia S. Krieger to be U.S. District Court judge for the District of Colorado; James C. Mahan to be U.S. District Court judge for the District of Nevada; Philip R. Martinez to be U.S. District Court judge for the Western District of Texas; and C. Ashley Royal to be U.S. District Court judge for the Middle District of Georgia.
"I congratulate all of you on being selected by President Bush to serve in high office. After reviewing your distinguished records, I have no doubt that you will do great service for the citizens of this country upon confirmation," said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and ranking Judiciary Committee member.
The 14 nominees awaiting final Senate action could, however, be held hostage to another feud erupting over legislation funding programs for homeless veterans.
A Republican Senator has placed an anonymous hold on the bill's final passage, and its chief sponsor said he may block judiciary nominations dear to Republicans to shake the hold.
"I will stop nominees if I have to," said Sen. Paul Wellstone, Minnesota Democrat. "I feel strongly about it and am prepared to fight really hard on this."
Meanwhile, Sen. Christopher S. Bond, Missouri Republican, said yesterday there is "no good reason" for Senate Democratic leaders to block a confirmation vote on Eugene Scalia, President Bush's nominee to become solicitor of the Labor Department.
Mr. Bond said Mr. Scalia is "languishing in limbo" because he is the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who ruled with the majority last year in favor of Mr. Bush in the contested Florida presidential election.
"The only basis on which Mr. Scalia is being blocked is because [Democrats] do not agree with the results of last year's election," Mr. Bond said.
"They don't like the fact that George Bush emerged as the new president and they are doing everything in their power to frustrate and impede his administration from pursuing its agenda," Mr. Bond said.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said Tuesday there will be no vote on Mr. Scalia's nomination.
A Bush administration official said Mr. Daschle's announcement came on the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision that vacated a Florida court's decision to extend the deadline for vote counting.
"It was payback day," the official said.
Mr. Daschle said he will not be influenced by Republicans' strategy of placing "holds" on nominations to the National Labor Relations Board, which Democrats and their union supporters view as an important agency.
"I think further holds just complicate circumstances," Mr. Daschle said. "Reciprocal holds generate more reciprocal holds, and ultimately nobody moves. And that isn't healthy."
David Boyer contributed to this report.

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