On Face the Nation in an interview with Bob Schieffer, Senator Frist states that the filibuster is legitimate if used to obtain more information.
SCHIEFFER: “…why did you vote to filibuster Judge Richard Paez when President Clinton nominated him to the 9th Circuit?”
Sen. FRIST: “Filibuster, cloture…as a scheduling [matter] or to get more information is legitimate. But not to kill nominees. He was not killed by us, he was confirmed. . .” [Face the Nation, Nov. 21, 2004]
Then AGAIN, in an exchange with Senator Schumber, Senator Frist again embraced the use of filibusters in order “to postpone, to get more information, to ask further questions.”
Here is the exchange from May 18, 2005:
Mr. SCHUMER. “Isn’t it correct that on March 8 of 2000, my friend from Tennessee voted to uphold the filibuster of Richard Paez?
Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, in response, the Paez nomination –we will come back and discuss it further. . .The issue is not cloture votes per se; it is the partisan leadership-led use of the cloture
vote to kill, to defeat, to assassinate these nominees. That is the difference. Cloture has been used in the past on this floor to postpone, to get more information, to ask further questions. But each and every time, the nominee, including Paez, got an up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate…” [Congressional Record, May 18, 2005]
ANOTHER LEADING REPUBLICAN, Senator Mitch McConnell, embraced putting holds on nominees and using “delays” as a tactic when pressuring the Executive Branch to provide information.
In October and November 1993, Senate Republicans blocked confirmation of five Clinton ambassadorial nominees for several weeks in order to secure information from the State Department about a pending investigation on an unrelated matter. In early November, Senator George Mitchell filed cloture petitions on all five nominations. Below are excerpts from statements made by Sen. McConnell justifying his effort:
Mr. McCONNELL: “With all of this indifference, I felt obliged to take some action to get the Secretary of State’s attention. So for the past 3 weeks, I have held up five State Department political nominees. . .The reason [we are] holding up the nominees, the [reason this] device [was] chosen, is because there are not any others. As [Sen. Dole] pointed out, we are not exactly running the Government these days, and we do not do it lightly. . .[W]e are going to continue to debate here. I take no personal pleasure in putting holds on these nominees…The issue is how do we get [the Administration’s] attention. I have not been here as long as the leaders, but I am unaware of any other device by which we can get their attention.” [Congressional Record, Nov. 3, 1993]
Senators Frist and McConnell acknowledge resorting to filibuster-like tactics in order to compel vital information on nominees from the Executive Branch.
Senators Dodd, Biden, and others are doing the same thing on John Bolton. Three key pending evidence requests are being arbitrarily dismissed by the White House — and NO YIELDING on cloture will be possible until the Executive Branch concedes on these document requests.
John Bolton will be in the State Department’s 1st Floor transition space for a long time until the evidence requests are made.
Senator Frist should be among the first to acknowledge and support his colleagues’ efforts in this regard.
— Steve Clemons