Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.) opened the Senate in January with a promise to vote on one of President BushÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬Ã¢â??Â¢s judicial nominees in February. But with February long gone and only a few days of business left in March before the Senate adjourns, it now appears almost certain to be April or May before a nominee gets a vote before the full Senate.
Frist defended the inaction Tuesday, telling HUMAN EVENTS that he is still waiting for Sen. Arlen SpecterÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬Ã¢â??Â¢s Judiciary Committee to approve the 20 judicial nominees that Bush resubmitted February 14. The GOP leader also said he was showing restraint in an attempt to work with Democrats, who have promised to once again filibuster at least seven (and possibly more) of the renominees.
HUMAN EVENTS: You said back in January you were going to bring a nominee to the floor in February, and here we are in March and April is soon approaching. Why have you waited?
Frist: Well, IÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬Ã¢â??Â¢m waiting for the Judiciary Committee, in part. IÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬Ã¢â??Â¢m trying to use restraint to show that weÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬Ã¢â??Â¢re being reasonable, making offers to be able to work out. What is unacceptable to me, and that is the affront to the Constitution that in the last Congress occurred by this unprecedented filibuster of judges. IÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬Ã¢â??Â¢m using restraint. IÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬Ã¢â??Â¢m talking to the other side of the aisle. And all I ask is the opportunity to vote on nominees that we know have majority support. And thatÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬Ã¢â??Â¢s where we are on the time.
HUMAN EVENTS: Are you and Senator Specter on the same page?
Frist: Yes, of course weÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬Ã¢â??Â¢re on the same page. WeÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬Ã¢â??Â¢re making slow progress. But weÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬Ã¢â??Â¢ll see. My obligation to the Constitution of the United States, and out of respect to the appropriation of power and balance of powers, is to make sure we restore 220 years of tradition, consistent with our obligation to the Constitution advice and consent to see that nominees with majority support coming from the President get a vote on the floor on the United States Senate–an up-or-down vote.