Filibuster Deal Faces Complications
Centrist Senators have not yet agreed on a deal to end the filibuster standoff, but talks continue.
According to the AP, the Senators trying to work out a deal include:
Republicans Lindsey Graham (SC), John Warner (VA), John McCain (AZ), Susan Collins (ME), Mike DeWine (OH), Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Democrats Ken Salazar (CO), Ben Nelson (NE), Mary Landrieu (LA), Joseph Lieberman (CT) and Mark Pryor of (AR).
Very likely, this group also includes Republicans Olympia Snowe (ME) and Lincoln Chaffee (RI) and possibly Trent Lott (MS).
What is very interesting about this is that there are only five Democrats involved in the compromise talks but there are possibly as many as nine Republicans. Any deal would include a vote for cloture and the Republicans only need five extra votes to reach the 60 required. So five Dems are enough. But it’s disheartening that there aren’t more involved.
Where’s Evan Bayh (IN)? Where’s newly-minted Centrist Hillary Clinton (NY)? How about Max Baucus (MT) and Blanche Lincoln (AR)? It’s unfortunate these Senators are MIA.
But it’s important to note that any compromise comes with its own problems. Most notably, a compromise would require the Republicans involved in the deal to discard a certain number of Bush’s nominees. They’d be doing this not out of conviction but because of a backroom deal. It would also require at least five Democrats to vote against cloture. Again, not because they’ve had a change of heart but because they made a deal.
For the sake of sanity and for the sake of preserving the filibuster, a deal is the right choice. But the reticence from both sides to make a deal is understandable.
It’ll take a lot to get this done.
UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that Democrat Robert Bird (WV) is also involved on the negotiations for compromise. I'm surprised the firebrand Byrd would be willing to make a deal--perhaps he's looking to transform into an "elder statesman."