Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, says Republicans are “threatening to blow up the Senate and stack the court with radical judges.” The showdown over how the U.S. Senate should vote on the people President Bush has picked to serve as federal judges stretched into an all-night debate last (Monday) night. “Unfortunately the Republican leadership would rather spend all night on their quest for absolute power than to address the issues that matter to everyday Iowans,” Harkin says. Republicans vow to force a vote in the Senate that would do away with a long-standing rule that, if 41 senators agree, allows senators to “filibuster” — essentially talk and talk and talk — to forever block a vote on a judicial nominee.Harkin says the Constitution lets the U.S. House and Senate establish its own rules, and for 217 years it has taken a two-thirds vote to change the rules of the Senate. Harkin says the Republicans are using a “parliamentary trick” to change the rules and Democrats will fight to keep the rule in place. “We believe in rules. We believe in following the rules and we don’t believe in changing the rules in the middle of the game just to gain an advantage,” Harkin says. Republicans hold the executive branch with President Bush in the White House and Republicans serve in a majority of seats in both the House and Senate which means the G-O-P controls the legislative branch of the federal government. Democrats say Republicans are now trying to “take over” the third branch of government, the judiciary. Republicans say Democrats are trying to deny President Bush his authority to pick the judges he wants to serve on the federal appeals courts and Supreme Court.
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