Inside Report: Showdown on Judges
-- Republican leaders count only two or three GOP senators who
will vote against the efforts to end, by a straight majority vote,
filibusters on confirmation of judicial nominations.
Snowe of Maine and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island will not support
this move, and they are likely to be joined by Sen. John McCain
of Arizona. That would mean 52 senators would go along with the
parliamentary maneuver attempting to end filibusters on judges.
Only 50 are needed.
Democrat who might possibly join this effort is Sen. Ben Nelson
of Nebraska. But Bush will not press him to break party discipline
if his help is unnecessary.
National Republican leaders are pressuring Cranston Mayor Stephen
Laffey to stay out of the Rhode Island Republican primary election
against liberal Sen. Lincoln Chafee.
Chafee votes against some of President Bush's proposals, he often
sticks with the administration on party-line votes and may do
so on the confirmation of John Bolton as ambassador to the United
Nations. The White House feels Chafee is still the best Republican
bet in heavily Democratic Rhode Island and does not want him to
face a Republican challenge.
is to the right of Chafee, is described by his supporters as confident
that he would win the primary against the incumbent senator. Laffey
also feels he would have a better chance than Chafee of winning
the general election.
Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, while claiming her
opposition to the confirmation of John Bolton as United Nations
ambassador was rare, has actually voted against 11 of President
went back to the record," Boxer said at last week's hearing
on Bolton's nomination. "I voted no three times out of hundreds
that have come through this committee." In fact, she opposed
the only two controversial Bush nominees considered by the Foreign
Relations Committee: Condoleezza Rice for secretary of state and
Bolton for under secretary of state.
voted against every Bush nominee facing any significant opposition.
They include John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales for attorney general,
Theodore Olson for solicitor general, Gale Norton for secretary
of the interior and Michael Leavitt, administrator of the Environmental
BYRD FLIES FREE
While Republicans claim they are targeting Democratic Sen. Robert
C. Byrd for re-election to a ninth term in West Virginia next
year, GOP strategists actually regard the Senate's senior member
as unbeatable and don't want to waste a serious candidate against
Moore Capito, 53, has been talked about as an effective Republican
challenger against the 87-year-old Byrd. However, national party
leaders feel she would face an uphill battle. Even if Byrd has
seemed more partisan and more eccentric recently, he is considered
unbeatable in West Virginia with so many public works in the state
named after him.
leaders worry that if Capito ran against Byrd, she not only would
be likely to be defeated for the Senate but probably would also
lose her former House seat to a Democrat. Capito is the first
Republican elected to Congress from West Virginia since 1980.
Embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff's spokesman has sent the Jewish
Forward an e-mail denying a Newsweek report that quoted him as
saying House Majority Leader Tom DeLay "knew everything"
about an alleged fraud involving fees paid by Indian tribes.
also claimed that the unnamed luncheon companion quoted by Newsweek
"has flatly denied ever stating that Mr. Abramoff said these
things." An orthodox Jew, Abramoff sent the denial only to
the Jewish Forward.
This column last weekend listed Democratic Rep. Rahm Emanuel of
Illinois among "those going to Rome" for the funeral
of Pope John Paul II. Emanuel, a non-Catholic, told me he gave
up his seat to permit a Catholic member of Congress to make the
2005 Creators Syndicate
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