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CNN LIVE TODAY

Senate Battle Fails to Halt Filibuster

Aired November 14, 2003 - 11:05   ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: The Senate talk-a-thon. It's over but the battle is going on. Republicans had hoped to use the debate to break filibusters on some of President Bush's nominees to the federal bench.
Our congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl has been watching from Washington taking notes and hopefully getting more sleep than the senators have over the last two nights. Good morning.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Truth be told, a little more sleep, Daryn.

KAGAN: Good for you.

KAGAN: Actually, you know, this talk-a-thon, 39 1/2 hours is the official timetable on it. But it actually is in a way still going on. We have live pictures of the Senate floor right now, even though they've officially ended this display on judges, there you see Republican Rick Santorum still expressing outrage at the Republicans -- at Democrats for blocking the votes on the president's judges.

The six judges they're talking about are six circuit court judges. These are high-profile appointments. This is the level of courts right below the Supreme Court. And after they finished their official talk-a-thon, they had votes on three of those judges, all women. Priscilla Owen, Carolyn Kuhl and Janice Rogers Brown. They had those votes, they went on. And, again, Democrats showed they had the votes to prevent them from coming up for an official vote.

These were votes to break the filibuster. You need 60 votes to do it. Republicans can only get 53, which, by the way, Daryn, is the exactly the number of votes they were able to get before their 39 1/2 hour talk-a-thon. So in terms of votes, it accomplished absolutely nothing.

Democrats came to the cameras after the talk-a-thon ended and Senator Ted Kennedy said this is all about preventing extremist judges from getting lifetime appointments on federal courts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: But what has not ended is the resolution and the determination of the members of the United States Senate to continue to resist any Neanderthal that is nominated by this president of the United States for any court, federal court in the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Strong words from Ted Kennedy suggesting that some of these nominees are Neanderthals. Certainly exactly what Republicans point to when they say it is the Democrats that have been the extremists on this. It is the Democrats that gone to lengths that they say have never been gone to against other presidents to block these nominations, to block the president's nominations.

Remember all these judges the Republicans are talking about have the support of more than 50 senators. So they could get an up or down vote, they would be confirmed, they would go to the bench. But Democrats have been able to prevent an actual vote from taking place.

Rick Santorum, who you saw a short while ago, is still talking on the Senate floor, expressed his outrage a short while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Carolyn Kuhl, William Pryor, Charles Pickering, Miguel Estrada, the list goes on and will go on. And will go on. This is a huge tragedy, what happened here today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Now as for last night's late night session, Daryn, in case you're wondering who was the one keeping -- burning the midnight oil, keeping the lights on talking throughout the night, on the Republican side they left that to two freshman, Lindsey Graham and Norm Coleman, just elected to the United States Senate last year. They were the ones tapped to keep working, keep talking throughout the night.

On the Democratic side they spread the paint a little bit more widely. There were several senators. Some freshmen, but also some of the senior members -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Sounds like being a rookie in the NFL or NBA. You got to carry the other guy's bags.

But, you know, this is kind of sounding like a movie that I've seen before. If you take us back to the Clinton administration, it was the Democrats were crying foul and it was Republicans that were blocking those nominations. So isn't this just a simple case of politics, Jonathan?

KARL: There is a lot of this. There is the finger pointing back and forth. Democrats say exactly that. They say Republicans made life hell for Bill Clinton. They prevented his nominations.

The difference here is the Republicans used other methods of preventing those nominations, or defeating them. This is the first time it's gone to the point where nominees have been confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, have more than the -- the support of more than 50 senators and have been blocked by this method of using a filibuster which requires 60 votes to overcome. So, yes, this is all something we've seen before. But what the Democrats are doing is a little bit different in terms of how they're defeating these judges. But the finger pointing goes on and on and on.

KAGAN: Which keeps you busy all day long -- and sometimes night long, as well.

KARL: Yes.

KAGAN: Jonathan, thank you for that.

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