Friday, May 27, 2005

Two Bush nominees get panel's quick OK

Two Bush nominees get panel's quick OK

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two of President Bush's blocked judicial nominees, cleared for confirmation by this week's Senate compromise on filibusters, gained quick approval Thursday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The nominations of Richard Griffin and David McKeague for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati were approved by voice vote without debate. The nominees now move to the full Senate for confirmation votes.

Democrats had blocked Griffin and McKeague at the request of Michigan's two Democratic senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow. But they agreed not to hold up the nominations anymore as part of the discussion over the use of judicial filibusters.

To avert a partisan showdown, seven Democrats and seven Republicans signed a pact Monday pledging not to filibuster judicial nominees except in extraordinary circumstances. At the same time, they agreed to oppose attempts by Republican leaders to change filibuster procedures.

The 14 signers, while a small minority of the Senate, hold enough leverage to stop future Democratic filibusters or block any attempt to impose new procedures to end judicial filibusters.

Democrats also agreed not to filibuster Priscilla Owen, who won confirmation Wednesday, and William Pryor and Janice Rogers Brown. Apart from the judicial nominees named in the agreement, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said Democrats also would clear the way for votes on McKeague, Griffin and Susan Neilson.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he expected the Senate to start the confirmation process on Brown and Pryor on June 7 after the Senate returns from its Memorial Day recess.

Democrats made no such agreement on a fourth Michigan nominee, Henry Saad. Reid has said Saad would likely be filibustered.

Neilson's nomination was not mentioned during the committee hearing.

Levin and Stabenow had blocked the nominations of Griffin and McKeague for years because they were upset that President Clinton's nominees to that court were never given a confirmation hearing by Republicans.

Votes on North Carolina judge Terrence Boyle and White House staff secretary Brett Kavanaugh, who also want lifetime seats on the U.S. Appeals Court, were delayed by the committee.


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