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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Daschle Responds to Bush Criticism

Aired May 9, 2003 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And with that, let's go to the floor of the U.S. Senate. Here is Minority Leader Tom Daschle.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: ... because we haven't confirmed nominations about how the system is broken. Well, in South Dakota we like to say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

And I think I have three charts to prove that it ain't broke. One twenty-four is the first chart, 124 judicial nominees have been confirmed in this administration. That is a record. There is no administration that we can find that has had a better record than this: 124 circuit and district court nominees have been confirmed since this president has taken office.

Here is the number that have not. That's right, two; 124 to 2.

We've done a little math, and here's the third chart. That is a 98.4 percent approval rate. I don't know of a business, a sports figure, a politician who gets 98.4 percent of what they ask, but that is the record. That is exactly the success level of this administration when it comes to judicial nominees: 98.4 percent.

Mr. President, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I find it particularly interesting that over the course of the eight years of the Clinton administration, we had 50 judicial nominations that didn't get a hearing. You talk about a filibuster, what about a fact that a person can't even get a hearing in the committee? Ten additional nominees got a hearing, but no vote. Sixty- five nominees never got to the Senate floor over the course of eight years during the 1990s. I will tell you, there was no 98.4 percent approval rate then, but that's the record.

Just to reiterate again, just to be sure that everybody understands I'll do this one more time: 124 nominees confirmed in two and a half years, circuit and district court nominees approved in the United States Senate: a record.

Two nominees that have not: Mr. Estrada, because he's refused to fill out his job application; and Ms. Owen, in large measure because she puts her own views ahead of the law. Those are the two.

One hundred twenty-four to 2, that comes out to 98.4 percent of all Bush nominees confirmed to date.

So, Mr. President, I'll end where I began: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I yield the floor, and I note the absence of a quorum.

KAGAN: All right. We are listening there to the floor of the Senate. That's Minority Leader Tom Daschle, answering the criticism we just heard from President Bush from the Rose Garden of the White House. President Bush coming out and calling for change, for reform in the way that federal judges are not just nominated but confirmed and moved on to the federal bench. You heard Tom Daschle say, basically, it works. Judges are getting through, and to quote Tom Daschle, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

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