Republicans plan to begin the process today of using their so-called "nuclear option" to end the Democratic filibusters of judicial nominees by changing Senate rules governing how many votes are required to break such blockades.
• Bush sees Mideast free-trade
• Lawmakers to investigate District's salaries
• Saddam's regime may face trial in Iraq
• Probe of French passports sought
• Black leaders say rift exists with immigrants
• 'Quiet' efforts credited for stability in oil rates
• Ramsey 'here for the long haul'
Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, plans to introduce the rules change today, according to two Senate aides involved in the Republican planning.
Currently, 60 votes are required to break a filibuster, which is also called invoking cloture. The resolution, co-sponsored by several senators, will require 60 votes only in the first attempt at invoking cloture. In each attempt after that, the vote requirement will drop by three until it reaches a simple majority of 51 votes.
This rule change will apply only to executive nominations, not legislative business.
Republicans hope the plan will be greeted favorably by some Democrats and thus increase their chances of getting it passed.
The idea was first floated by Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat, in an Op-Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal several months ago. Mr. Miller has consistently voted with Republicans to end the filibusters. In 1995, a similar plan was introduced by Democratic Sens. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Tom Harkin of Iowa.