The Senate pulls an all-nighter

As lawmakers gear up for an all-night Senate session, Sen. Harry Reid says a deal to prevent the nuclear option seems increasingly unlikely.

Published May 23, 2005 9:04PM (EDT)

As senators hoping to reach a compromise on President Bush's judicial nominees steeled themselves for an all-night session on Monday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid seemed pessimistic about lawmakers' ability head off the nuclear option. Reid told reporters that, at this point, "the prospects of something being worked out are very, very remote."

If a deal isn't reached, Reid will have to hope his attempts in recent weeks to win over a few key Republicans have been successful. According to Monday's Washington Post, Reid has been running a kind of man-to-man defense, matching Senate Democrats with those undecided Republicans with whom they have something in common. Reid has had Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., working on Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., because they're both members of the Judiciary Committee and recently co-sponsored an asbestos litigation reform bill. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., has been covering Sen. John Warner, R-Va., because they have the Armed Services Committee in common, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., was paired with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, because they're both on the Homeland Security Committee.

A resigned-sounding Reid said on Monday that, if the full-court press fails and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist succeeds in his campaign to end the judicial filibuster, he plans to retaliate by blocking all kinds of GOP-backed legislation. Topping the list of bills he'll block: the proposed Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, and the asbestos reform bill. "I think you can kiss asbestos goodbye," Reid said.

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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