The long delay in confirming Bush’s nominees was initially blamed on Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R.-Pa.), who was slow to move appellate court nominees Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen out of committee. But after Specter fulfilled his promise April 21, Frist did not move those nominees to the Senate floor immediately, prompting anxiety among conservatives that he didn’t have the 50 Republican votes (plus Vice President Cheney) needed to pass the “nuclear option.”
Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) has since quelled some fears: “I never announce my whip count. But I’m telling you, there’s no doubt in my mind–and I’m a pretty good counter of votes–that we have the votes we need,” he told the Washington Times. Meanwhile, Republican sources, noting the importance of ending the use of judicial filibusters before there is a Supreme Court vacancy (which could happen this summer), predict Frist will indeed force a crisis over judicial nominations this month. Bottom line: D-Day is coming. But is it for Frist, or for Senate Democrats? The month of May will tell.