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Effort to Halt Senate Filibuster on Estrada Vote Fails Again

March 19, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Republicans on Tuesday failed for a third time to break a Senate filibuster on federal judicial nominee Miguel Estrada but said they would continue to require Democrats to vote to keep the Latino lawyer off the federal bench.

Senate Republicans, with a 55-45 vote Tuesday, failed again to get the 60 votes they needed to move to a final confirmation vote on Estrada, who was nominated by President Bush to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said it was the first time in the Senate's history that three votes to move to the confirmation of a president's nominee had failed on the Senate floor.

"If we continue to filibuster this man, the Senate will be broken, the system will be broken and I think we will have to do what we have to do to make sure that executive nominations get votes once they get on the calendar," Hatch said.

Republicans have accused Democrats of treating Estrada unfairly because he is a conservative Latino.

"The problems come down to this: He's conservative, and my colleagues on the other side think that he's pro-life," Hatch said.

Democrats say they fear that Estrada would be an extreme right-wing judge if placed on the court, and they are seeking the release of more information about him.

They want Estrada to answer more questions and for the White House to release memos Estrada wrote while working for the Justice Department.

Every Republican voted to end the filibuster. They were joined by Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, John B. Breaux of Louisiana and Zell Miller of Georgia.

The rest of the Democrats and independent Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont stood firm in opposition.

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