Murkowski: Judicial fight could affect ANWR deliberations

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Posted: Monday, May 02, 2005

FAIRBANKS (AP) — A rancorous fight with Democrats over President Bush's judicial nominations could clog up other business, including measures to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to petroleum drilling, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said.

The Alaska Republican said Thursday she worries that the opportunity for ANWR legislation could disappear in a fight over Democrats' right to filibuster Bush's nominations.

That's in part why she is urging her Republican leadership to keep talking with Democrats rather than eliminating their chance to filibuster, she said.

Democrats at one point vowed to shut down the Senate with procedural motions if they were denied the right to filibuster, Murkowski said.

She does not believe Democrats would completely freeze the system, she said, but they could target some favorite Republican proposals, such as opening ANWR.

''This is one of the reasons I have urged caution on the judicial nominees,'' she said.

Murkowski's caution on judicial filibusters is not all about ANWR, she said.

Murkowski said Senate tradition clearly discourages judicial filibusters. However, she said, she does not want to make the tradition an official rule, an action that some have dubbed the ''nuclear option.''

''Tradition, I suppose, you could define as something that is generally done,'' she said, ''but if it's in a rule, and it says it never, ever, ever will be done, that rule would make it absolute.''

That seems unwise, she said.

She is among the minority of Republicans who is encouraging Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to keep trying to find a compromise.

Frist offered a compromise Thursday afternoon that drew support from both Murkowski and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska. Democrats rejected it because it still would preclude filibusters.


Information from: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,

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