The Democrats were: Nelson, Pryor, and Sens. Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Ken Salazar (Colo.), Dan Inouye (Hawaii) and Joe Lieberman (Conn.).
Some Republicans, including DeWine and Graham, said they were willing to support Frist on the nuclear option but decided the fall-out in the Senate would destroy work on too many important issues. “The Senate is back in business,” Graham said.
The deal is certain to aggravate many liberal and conservative activists, who had been pressuring each side to stand fast. Graham, from one of the most conservative states, said he expected a stark reaction from many of his constituents. “People at home are going to be very upset with me for a while,” he said.
In the run-up to the final day before the showdown, each side staged message events on the eve of the vote, with Republicans and Democrats planning to hold rallies throughout Monday night and into the early hours of Tuesday morning as the chamber was set to hold its second round-the-clock session in 18 months on the judicial nomination process.
Frist rallied the entire 55-member GOP Conference in a rare Monday caucus leading up to the 5:30 p.m. procedural vote which served as the unofficial kick-start to the marathon session.
Reid, meanwhile, continued his own public relations blitz, attending rallies, including a event with Latino lawmakers and activists, and also taking to the airwaves in an unusual 90-second television advertisement in which Reid attacked the so-called nuclear option. The Alliance for Justice, a liberal activist group working closely with the Democratic leadership on the issue, paid $250,000 for the one-time national advertisement airing on various national cable networks around 8 p.m. Monday.
The ad ended up running just moments after the deal was announced.
Frist continued pushing the theme that the principle of a straight up-or-down vote on judicial nominees was both a constitutional requirement and would also serve as a simple political message that the public at large would embrace.
“The American people expect us to act, not just debate. They expect results, not just rhetoric,” Frist said on the floor Monday. “We may not agree on every judicial nominee. But we can agree on the principle that every qualified judicial nominee deserves an up-or-down vote.”
Frist reiterated this premise late Monday afternoon immediately following the meeting with his fellow Republicans. Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) stood at Frist’s left elbow and other GOP colleagues lined up behind the Majority Leader as he announced that the first vote in the nuclear option process would occur at noon on Tuesday.
Reid continued to hammer away at the nuclear option as part of a broader abuse by the Bush White House and Congressional Republicans, charging that it was an attempt to complete its hold on power by securing an easier confirmation route for conservative judges to take hold of the Supreme Court and the rest of the federal judiciary.
“Unfortunately, some Senate Republicans are trying to give President Bush power no president has ever had — the ability to personally hand out lifetime jobs to judges including the Supreme Court — without consensus from the other party,? Reid was set to say in the Alliance for Justice ad.