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Old 04-23-2005, 09:52 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Pro-GOP business groups refuse to back the nuclear option

Looks like the rats are leaving the sinking ship. I, for one, am thrilled to see there are people on the right who recognize how much damage this blatant power grab could do to our country. It's looking more and more like the nuclear option is a shooting star that's about to flame out. It's high time we put an end to this nonsense and get on with things the American people really want the government to be doing.


Quote:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will draw a chorus of amens Sunday when thousands of evangelicals across the United States hear his call to put more conservative judges on the federal bench. But even as the Tennessee Republican addresses "Justice Sunday" -- a 90-minute simulcast to conservative churches that enthusiastically backs a Senate rule change to speed nominations -- the leader faces apprehension from another key GOP constituency.

The country's leading business lobbying associations, close GOP allies in recent legislative efforts and political campaigns, have told senior Republicans that they will not back the Frist initiative to force votes on judicial candidates. Business leaders say they fear the move would shut down Senate action on their long-awaited priorities -- as Democrats have threatened to do if Frist moves ahead with a rule change they claim would drastically alter the traditions of a body designed to respect the rights of the minority party.

"If we do that, then all else is going to stop," said Thomas J. Donohue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, during a meeting with reporters Friday.

He then reeled off a list of business priorities that could be delayed for months in the resulting partisan uproar. He expressed the same concerns directly to Frist's office in recent days.

The reticence by business presents a dilemma for Frist, who wants to build ties with the Republican base ahead of his likely 2008 presidential bid, but now must balance competing demands from two pillars of Republican politics: evangelicals, who can marshal millions of voters, and businesses, which donate millions of dollars. Both groups played pivotal roles in securing Bush's re-election last year and expanding the GOP majority in Congress -- and both have made clear that they expect to be rewarded. But while business groups can already point to several victories -- such as passage of laws on class action lawsuits and bankruptcy -- evangelicals look to the judicial fight as the signal moment to exert newfound influence.

Party officials concede that the tension between business leaders and social conservatives could foreshadow problems for Republican candidates in 2006 and 2008 who, like Bush, will rely on an energized and unified base to win closely fought contests.

"Every day that this does not get resolved there could be increased tension or pressure put on the situation," said one GOP strategist, who requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the rift. "Depending on how artfully or in-artfully this is resolved, there is some fence-mending that needs to be done."

.......

The risks were brought home to business leaders late last week when two moderate Democrats known for close ties to the corporate community sent a sharply worded letter to Donohue, as well as to his counterparts at the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable. Democratic Sens. Thomas R. Carper of Delaware and Herb Kohl of Wisconsin wrote that Republicans are "trying to erase the `checks and balances' that exist in our representative democracy, turning the Senate into a rubber stamp for the president."

The day after the letter was sent, representatives from all three business organizations -- the Chamber of Commerce, Roundtable and Manufacturers Association -- and a handful of others met in Frist's office for a briefing on the filibuster rule from the senator's chief of staff. The three groups have all declined to back Frist's filibuster initiative, issuing careful statements of neutrality.

Frist and his staff are already assigning blame to the Democrats for threatening to shut down Senate business, predicting it is they who will suffer. "A vote to shut down the Senate in fit of pique would be irresponsible and the American people, I believe, would let the Democrats know that in no small voice," said Frist's spokesman, Robert Stevenson.

Despite the confident and aggressive statements from the majority leader's office, Republicans were forced to confront new polling data showing that their plans were not popular. Internal GOP polling compiled by The Winston Group and presented late last week to Senate staffers revealed that 51 percent of registered voters oppose the idea of changing the rules -- compared to just 37 percent who back it.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...home-headlines
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