Thursday, July 13, 2006

Gang of 14 to Meet Today

According to Roll Call, no definite agenda. They're just going to shoot some bull... and maybe the names Haynes, Boyle, Myers and Wallace will come up:

‘Gang’ Returns As Fight Looms
July 13, 2006
By Erin P. Billings and John Stanton,
Roll Call Staff

The bipartisan “Gang of 14” will meet for the first time in two months this afternoon in a gathering intended to determine group members’ attitudes on a series of outstanding judicial nominations, according to sources.
The seven Democratic and seven Republican Senators will meet at 1:15 p.m. in the office of Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). While organizers said there was no firm agenda outlined for the meeting, Senators and aides speculated the session largely would focus on the pending nomination of William Haynes to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

...Although no specific issue is on the schedule, many close to the gang speculated it is likely to focus most heavily on Haynes’ nomination, given that he came before the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. But several other controversial nominees also remain on the Senate’s radar including circuit court hopefuls Terrence Boyle, William Myers and Michael Wallace.

Boyle — probably the most incendiary nominee in the group — on Wednesday provided written answers to a series of questions from Judiciary members. It is unclear, however, whether those answers will curry him any more favor with Senators who have raised conflict of interest questions over some of his previous rulings.

But it is Haynes, general counsel to the Defense Department, who is likely to come to a vote first. Democrats and some moderate Republicans have expressed concerns that Haynes played an integral role in U.S. interrogation and torture policies used at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.

...But, with the election season in full swing and only seven weeks of scheduled legislative time left on the calendar, the chance that the gang will again be called upon to broker a deal on Haynes or another controversial circuit court nominee appear slim. While there are four judicial confirmations that could prompt a revival of the nuclear option fight, none of them enjoys the kind of support within the GOP at this point that would be needed to bring the group in to play.

Although Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn) and Specter have been working with the White House to try to find a way forward for the stalled nominees, GOP aides acknowledged Wednesday not enough progress had been made and that the window of opportunity was rapidly closing.

But one senior Republican Senate aide wasn’t ready to close the door, suggesting that Haynes, in particular, came across “very strong” and “didn’t wilt” in Tuesday’s Judiciary hearing. This staffer predicted Haynes would come up for a vote this year, and that he has the support — despite concerns from some moderates — to move forward.

“I believe so, given our 55-vote majority,” this source said.

But Democratic Senate leaders signaled this week they are willing to put up a fight, and have not ruled out using the filibuster on Haynes’ confirmation.

This could be interesting. Remember that the Gang of 14 includes Mike DeWine, Lincoln Chafee, and Joe Lieberman - all of whom face very difficult re-election fights. Depending on when the vote comes in relation to the primary (at least in the cases of Chafee and Lieberman) and whome they perceive themselves as needing to appeal to, it will be interesting to watch what they do.

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Philo-Junius said...
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