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Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Specter Playing Ball with WH

Today Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) did his best to advance the president’s partisan agenda on judicial nominations – the president hopes to gin up the party base for the upcoming midterm elections – when he officially scheduled votes on renominated circuit court candidates William Haynes, William Myers, Norman Randy Smith and Terrence Boyle for tomorrow’s Executive Business Meeting of the Judiciary Committee. (There is a strong possibility the votes will be postponed for one week.) Despite strong resistance among Senate Democrats and even among some Republicans to some of these nominations, the White House officially resubmitted them, along with Michael Wallace (who can’t be voted on until he has had a hearing), on Tuesday.

According to Roll Call (subscription required), Republican leaders are “skeptical that they can take up and win a major battle over judicial nominations with just four weeks left on the Congressional calendar before Election Day.” But Roll Call reports that “conservative judicial groups … are turning up the heat on Republicans,” putting “fierce pressure” on Republican senators to act on the nominations despite the fact that they threaten to divide the party and may “detract from” Republicans’ other “legislative priorities.” Roll Call notes that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) expects “a lengthy and bitter floor fight” if any of the four make it out of committee before the Senate adjourns.

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