WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans are tiring of the battle to confirm contested judicial nominees, indicating that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's Democratic plan to prevent President Bush from shaping the federal judiciary is succeeding.
Weekly meetings of Republican senators produce increased grumbling. The complaining senators ask the White House and the Republican leadership why they should keep fighting to confirm as appellate judges Washington, D.C., lawyer Miguel Estrada and Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen. Not only liberal GOP senators but also some old guard committee chairmen claim this fight is neither important nor politically prudent.
Kennedy's unprecedented plan to block Bush's judicial selections always has been based on the theory that Republican senators soon would tire of the struggle.
WHO RULES IRAQ?
Exiled Iraqi leader Ahmad Chalabi was brought to Iraq to take part in postwar nation building against the wishes of the State Department and without its knowledge.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld showed his dominance within the administration by insisting on the quick arrival in Iraq of Chalabi and his associates. Chalabi is the London-based leader of the Iraqi National Congress.
According to administration sources, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was particularly opposed to bringing in the Iraqi National Congress so early to give it an advantage in postwar political maneuvers. Chalabi turned up in Iraq without the State Department even being alerted.
The decision by Sen. Peter Fitzgerald not to seek re-election in Illinois next year came as an unpleasant surprise to the White House. It had counted on him for a difficult but winnable race in a state now dominated by Democrats.
Fitzgerald was the most seriously threatened elected GOP incumbent senator, second in vulnerability among Republicans only to appointed Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Nevertheless, Fitzgerald would have been a better bet in Illinois than an unknown candidate who will be his replacement.
President Bush's political operatives had stilled talk of challenging Fitzgerald in the Republican primary. While he occasionally went off the reservation, Fitzgerald was usually a dependable vote for the administration. The White House had asked House Speaker Dennis Hastert and other critics of the senator to lay off Fitzgerald.
FUNDS FROM FRIST
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is hosting an unusual $1,000-a-ticket fund-raiser for Rep. Tom Davis, a powerful House Republican who is a sure bet for re-election from his district in northern Virginia's Washington suburbs.
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