« Christmas Present for Political Junkies? | Main | Can I say, "Told you so." »

December 22, 2007

The Constitutional Option?

Remember the "Constitutional Option."  Back in the day (circa 2005) when President Bush could not get judges confirmed in the Senate due to Democratic filibusters, then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist considered a procedural move allowing the confirmation of judges with just 51 votes. In a nutshell Frist maintained the U.S. Constitution provided the Senate the responsibility to "advise and consent" on nominations and that utilizing the filibuster violated this Constitutional responsibility.  Some called it the "nuclear option," because many believed Democrats would retaliate and tie the Senate in procedural knots. As you recall, the so called "Gang of 14" Senators intervened with a compromise and Frist never triggered the "nuclear" (constitutional option).

As th first session of the 110th Congress ends, we also witnessed the triumph of a "constitutional option" of sorts.  We didn't face a government shutdown or stalemate, nor did the Democratic majority win unilateral victories.  On issue after issue -- war funding, the budget and appropriations, energy legislation, the Alternative Minimum Tax and the State Children's Health Insurance Program -- to name a few -- lawmakers enacted compromises.

And in this process, the White House and congressional Republicans had a louder than expected voice in the legislative arena. I write about these compromises here in my weekly Washington Times column, Politics in the City.

The comments to this entry are closed.