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Fox's Brit Hume and Senator Bill Frist sitting in a tree...

Reported by Chrish - April 28, 2005

In a "Fox News Exclusive" on Special Report today, 4/28/05, anchor Brit Hume and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist discussed Frist's "compromise" offered today. Notably missing from the 5-minute segment was the opposition, reducing it to a scripted "good cop, bad cop" joke.

The segment began with a clip of Frist on the Senate floor, reading "When a judicial nominee comes to the floor we will set aside 100 hours to debate that nomination. Then the Senate as a whole will speak with an up or down vote."

Hume: "That was Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist outlining his new offer to Senate Democrats this afternoon on the Senate floor. As Major Garrett noted earlier, the offer was quickly rejected by Frist's Democratic counterpart. For more on this, the Senator joins me now from the Capitol. Senator"...

"..Do you expect now, you've made this offer while there was obviously little enthusiasm for it by Senator Reid, the Democratic leader, that he will make a counter-offer now, is that where this stands?"

"Well, Brit, I don't know. I think their initial reaction was a knee-jerk reaction before they even looked at the offer. I base that on Senator Reid's response on the floor after I made the offer. This proposal is a proposal that addresses their principal concern, or at least what they've said over the last few days, that the majority party has locked up people in the past in committee,
it addresses that,..."

Brit: "Let me stop you for a second...it addresses that by, you're proposing here procedural changes that would mean you could no longer, filibusters aside, you could no longer bottle up the nominations in committee and keep them from coming to the floor."

(Comment: Notice how he used "you" rather than "they", which would have made the intent of stripping Democrats of any power crystal-clear.)

Frist: "That's correct."

Hume: "And then secondly you're offering when they do come to the floor you can talk about them for up to 100 hours, but then it's time to vote."

Frist "That's right."

Hume: "Is that the essence of the offering?"

Frist: "That's exactly right. It's two-fold, it addresses their biggest concern in committee and ours this unprecedented filibuster on the floor. (Brit is trying to interrupt again, Ss..Ss.., but Frist talks on.) And let me just say it sticks with the principle of fairness but also the principle that these nominees get an up or down vote, that we do our duty as US Senators."

Hume: "Obviously, the Democrats have a different view of whether it's fair or not, but let me ask you this: is this on your part then a final offer?"

Frist: "I'm not going to say it's a final offer , I can say we're addressing their major concerns and sticks with the principle that we feel strongly about consistent with advise and consent in the Constitution and so it's not going to be a final offer I can say we've been negotiating and talking for three months and still they say they threaten they will filibuster, they will obstruct, and until recently Senator Reid has said they're going to shut down the Senate, shut down the government.

Hume: "Well they've backed off that..."

Frist: "Well I know, as long as there continues to be movement, in a direction, it's based on principle, it's based on fairness, we'll continue to talk. Again the bottom line is to get all of these an up or down vote on the floor of the Senate."

Hume: "Well as you noted earlier, this did not elicit much initial enthusiasm from Democrats including Senator Reid. Let me ask, how much help is it to you to make offers like this one in keeping Republicans who might be disinclined to see the Senate rules changed here to go along with that?"

Frist: "My goal is to base everything on principle but I think it's inportant as leader of the US Senate that we engage the other side and really exhaust whether it's a rule change , I put the Frist/Miller approach which accomplishes that last year, they turned that down, we've had proposals go back and forth, most recently from Senator Reid, which was a sort of a spin-the-bottle approach, dump four overboard and let three go through, and you pick, doesn't make sense and what I'm doing is responding with a very fair, what I regard a fair proposal. At some point if we can't get these nominees an up-or-down vote, if you have people like Priscilla Owens ten years on the Supreme Court,(Brit says "right") waiting for two years, 84% approval rate, and we don't give her the courtesy od a vote and she's waiting out here on the floor, that's wrong."

Brit: "I gotcha, Senator. Can you say categorically right now that you will not go along with any offer that fails to assure that not only these nominees but the future nominees for the appellate courts or the Supreme Court will be guaranteed a vote?"

Frist: "Well, that's the principle and it's kinda hard to cut the principle in half. And it really is both the current nominees the president * just nominated recently and also the ones in future *, appellate and Supreme Court nominees deserve an up-or-down vote.*"

* Brit trying to interrupt with "So the answer is yes." which he finally gets out.

Frist: "yes."

Hume: "Alright, now. How about votes? Have you heard, for example Senator Lugar on fox News Sunday, if it gets down to it and you're not able to make a deal, that he will go along with you. What about other members? Senator McCain has expressed limited enthusiasm for making this so-called nuclear option change, similarly Senator McCain (sic) has been hesitant about it...how do they now stand in your judgment, and how do you stand on the votes?"

Frist: "I'm not going to do whip counts on television or otherwise. I do believe all my colleagues understand what advice and consent means. i believe all of them, I speak to my Republican colleagues and I hope most of my Democrat colleagues understand that what happened in the last Congress was unprecendented (Comment: Not!) and we were not able to give advise and consent when a majority of US Senators were prevented from voting and supporting and confirming judges. That was wrong and I think a majority of Senators recognize that was wrong."

Comment: Frist got to use the Fox News Channel to make his case for his proposal (and cite it as principled 7 times); Harry Reid was not given an equal 5-minutes to make his case for retaining the 200-year-old filibuster procedure. Without the Fairness Doctrine to force it, Fox is neither fair nor balanced.

As reported earlier this month, Major Garrett gave us a heads up on the Republican intent to offer unacceptable "compromises" : "...there's going to be a carefully orchestrated process between now and then. What Republicans want to do is present a series of compromises...negotiated between Senators Frist and Nelson....Republicans expect Democrats to reject it because it's going to be very similar to what they rejected that Frist and Zell Miller put together. After that they will say to the Republicans, 'we've tried everything, we have no other choice', pull the Republicans together, and enforce the rule change."

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