- The Washington Times - Monday, March 4, 2002

The Senate's top Democrat says President Bush's bid to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and his nomination of U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are dead.
In an interview yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota said he would require at least 60 votes before allowing ANWR drilling to be the subject of a Senate floor vote.
"Controversial issues always require 60 votes. That's been the way we do things in the Senate from its very inception," Mr. Daschle told host Tim Russert. Sixty votes would be the number required to stop a filibuster against the proposal.
Asked if there were 60 votes, the majority leader said, "There is not."
"So it is dead," Mr. Russert said.
"Well, at least right now, it is, correct," said Mr. Daschle, whose party holds a one-vote majority in the Senate, but who has required measures that he opposes but that has the president's backing to garner at least 60 votes.
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, who also appeared on "Meet the Press," indirectly threatened some Democratic priorities.
"Again, there seems to be a pattern here. I learned when I was majority leader … you've got to have bipartisanship," the Mississippi Republican said. "And when you don't, you have great difficulty getting a bill, whether it's agriculture or energy or trade or election reform. And there seems to be more and more difficulty in the Senate producing a result."
The Democrats' energy bill does not include the ANWR provision. It focuses more on conservation and alternative energy sources.
Mr. Lott says he foresees job losses as well as potential safety problems as a result of a provision in the Daschle bill that calls for the average fuel efficiency of automobiles to rise from the present 27.5 miles per gallon to 35 miles per gallon by 2013.
"This is the nanny government, telling you what you can drive," the Republican leader said.
Mr. Lott also expressed dismay at what he called the "smear activity by outside groups" waged against the nomination of Judge Pickering, his friend and fellow Mississippian.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and a member of the Judiciary Committee, has said the panel will reject the Pickering nomination by a 10-9 party-line vote. She has said it will not go to the Senate floor for a vote.
Asked yesterday if that means the Pickering nomination is dead, Mr. Daschle said, "It is."
The majority leader said it would be "unprecedented" to allow the nomination to go to the vote if the Judiciary Committee rejected it.
"We agreed in past Congresses, and even in this Congress, that for Supreme Court nominees, under all circumstances, they would come to the floor, even if the Judiciary Committee voted against them," Mr. Daschle said. "But that was Supreme Court nominees. We looked back … we could not find a precedent for an appeals court judge or a district court judge coming to the floor over the objections of the Judiciary Committee."
Mr. Lott said the panel could reject the nomination but still report it to the floor.
"There are some Democrats that now realize [Judge Pickering] has been mischaracterized" and "smeared" as being anti civil rights, the Mississippi Republican said. He did not indicate whether those Democrats were on the Judiciary Committee.
"This is a good man, well-educated. He has been a good judge. He has shown courage in the race arena. And as a matter of fact, has been a uniter, not a divider. And it's a tragedy the way he has been treated," Mr. Lott said.


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