Filibuster rule testing U.S. Senate's leadership
Politics is the art of compromise.
For more than 200 years, the U.S. Senate has been a place where the majority and minority parties hammered out differences within the framework of the established rules.
But the failure of Democrats and Republicans to reach an agreement on a handful of President Bush’s proposed judicial candidates threatens not only that tradition of successful negotiations, but in a larger context the bipartisan cooperation upon which our government has depended since its inception.
If Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., makes good on his threat to change Senate rules and invoke the so-called “nuclear option,” banning filibusters in judicial confirmation proceedings, it will be an admission of failure on the part of the majority and minority leadership.
While discussions continued early in the week, Sen. Frist was threatening Tuesday to invoke the nuclear option as early as today.
If the parties reach an 11th-hour compromise and the filibuster and nuclear threats prove to be mere negotiating postures, then Sen. Frist and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, will have done their jobs.
But if the parties fail to agree and Sen. Frist makes good on his threat, he and Sen. Reid will have proven that they are unable to perform the solemn tasks for which they have been given responsibility and both should step down from their leadership roles.