Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Civility and Moderation: Hopes for the US Senate

Well, with Monday night's compromise reached in the U.S. Senate, I'm struck by the differences of opinion between the Virginians who sit in the Senate.

From the right,
Reactions ranged from outrage, particularly from Republicans like Sen. George Allen R-Va., who had hoped the showdown would clear a path for conservative nominees for the Supreme Court.
And from the center,
"It shows that individuals in this institution can come together and overcome some of their strongest differences for the good of the nation and the institution," said Sen. John Warner, R-Va., one of the deal's architects.
Moderation. Civility. Compromise. I, for one, and glad one of my Senators was one of the Gang of 14.
The eclectic group - some of whom are calling themselves "the Gang of 14" - included the Senate's most senior member and its most junior, as well as moderates, mavericks and those who hold its traditions dear.

If it created some unlikely alliances, the deal also opened new rifts. Among the deal's harshest critics were Allen and Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., both likely contenders for their party's 2008 presidential nomination. They said it did a disservice to Bush by continuing to expose his nominees to filibusters. That put Hagel at odds with his good friend Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who helped broker the deal, while Allen was criticizing the work of Warner, the senior senator from his state.

Warner hastened to say that the 14 compromisers weren't trying to set themselves up as the Senate's new power brokers. But they acknowledged that their example could be powerful. "Success breeds success," said Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, who was also part of the group. "Trust breeds trust. This is a first step - it's not the end."
I blog, but I don't usually write my elected representatives. I should, but I don't. Well, I did today. I told Senator Allen he was wrong and ought to look to Senator Warner for leadership, and I thanked Senator Warner for his leadership and foresight.

Who's the winner. Well, the American people for one. The Senate for second. And, it sounds like, John McCain for third.
The Monday night agreement to avert a showdown vote over judicial filibusters not only spared the Senate from a potentially ruinous clash, but also certified John McCain as the real leader of that body.

In contrast to Majority Leader Bill Frist, who was unable to negotiate a compromise with Minority Leader Harry Reid or hold his Republicans in line to clear the way for all of President Bush's nominees to be confirmed, McCain looks like the man who achieved his objectives...

To be sure, McCain was only one of 14 senators -- seven from each party -- who forged an agreement to clear three of the roadblocked circuit court nominees at once, shelve two others, and reserve the option of future filibusters only for "exceptional circumstances." And the deal forged in McCain's office probably would not have been possible without the support of such Senate elders as Republican John Warner and Democrat Robert Byrd.
Senator Warner posted Monday on his website,
Our work on language concerning the “Advice” provision in the Constitution is but one part of a broader agreement we are working on together with our colleagues.

Our collective goal in these discussions is to arrive at a process that will permit the Senate to move forward this Congress with its important business, while establishing a workable blueprint for the Senate’s present and future consideration of judicial nominees.

While we are not yet there, our group continues to make progress, and we remain hopeful that we can arrive at a mutual understanding prior to Tuesday’s cloture vote.
Meanwhile, Senator Allen remains fundamentally partisan with a view the glass is half empty.

Overall this is a major disappointment on principle. It's a good victory for 3 of the President's nominees, who the Democrats have vilified. They will get the vote they deserve. But this is not a great deal for 2 nominees who have been accorded a nice wake having been thrown overboard at sea. Thus, this so-called deal is disappointing for all of us who believe in the principle that persons should be accorded the fairness and due process of an up or down vote. Everyone should also clearly see that ultimately, nothing has been settled when a vacancy arises on the U.S. Supreme Court.
All I'll say is this: Get with the program Senator Allen. We don't want to see hatred and vitriol on the floor of the United States Senate.

No comments:

Post a Comment