- The Washington Times - Friday, October 19, 2001

Four district judges were unanimously approved yesterday by the Senate Judiciary Committee after Republicans complained that President Bush's nominees were being treated unfairly by Democrats.

Republicans are insisting that the 44 judges nominated by Mr. Bush before the August recess be voted on before Congress adjourns for the year. To date, eight judges have been confirmed.

"It's a good step in the right direction, but it doesn't make much of a dent," Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, said after the vote.

Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, is blocking a spending bill for foreign operations to force a vote on the pending judges.

Committee negotiations were halted after an anthrax attack on Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's office Monday exposed staffers and Capitol Police officers; a total of 31 persons.

"We've not been able to discuss the judges for obvious reasons," said Mr. Lott, who predicted that a vote to move forward on the spending bill Tuesday would fail.

The committee unanimously passed without debate Karen K. Caldwell as U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Laurie Smith Camp as U.S. district judge for the District of Nebraska; Claire V. Eagan as U.S. district judge for the Northern District of Oklahoma, and James H. Payne as U.S. district judge for the Northern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Oklahoma.

"It's a beginning, but let it not be something to pacify us and move on. That won't work," Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican, said of yesterday's action.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, committee chairman and Vermont Democrat, said, "I am fully committed to the process of confirming judges and filling vacancies. I will not be pressured to proceed on nominees whose records are not complete to the satisfaction of this committee.

"It is painfully clear to me that in this time of national challenge, the message must be sent that the United States Senate should be working as a unified team to respond to the violent attacks against our country," Mr. Leahy said. "We should be avoiding petty partisanship. This is hardly the time for divisive bickering."

His plea did not prevent Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, from calling Republicans "phonies" for saying Mr. Bush's nominees were being treated unfairly by Democrats.

Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, told the committee he will bring a measure to the floor forcing a vote on the nominees.

The committee also held hearings on the nominations of Charles W. Pickering Sr. for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals; M. Christina Armijo for U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico; Karon O. Bowdre to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama; Stephen P. Friot for U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, and Larry R. Hicks for U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

Dave Boyer contributed to this report.

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