Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats on Thursday quietly blocked consideration of President Bush's 3-year-old nomination of White House aide Brett Kavanaugh as a federal appeals court judge, beginning a process that may trigger a constitutional test.

 Under committee procedures, the Democrats can automatically block such a nomination only once. Kavanaugh is expected to be voted out of Judiciary on a straight party-line vote this coming week. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid will come under heavy pressure to conduct a filibuster.

 Assuming that Republicans cannot get the 60 votes needed for cloture, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist then intends to invoke the so-called nuclear option to confirm Kavanaugh by a majority vote. The showdown is expected within the next month. The same procedure may be used to try to confirm U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle, whose appeals court nomination has been on the Senate floor for a year.


 Fears by longtime Democratic donors that Howard Dean as the party's national chairman would dry up traditional funds were confirmed by last month's fund-raising figures released by the Federal Election Commission. For the first time, the Democratic House and Senate campaign committees each raised more in a month than the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headed by Dean.

 The March numbers showed $6.8 million raised by the DNC, compared with $9.2 by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and $6.9 million by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). The Republican Committee raised $11.8 million in March, almost twice as much as the DNC.

 The GOP Senate and House committees raised less than their Democratic counterparts because so many Democratic donors feel more comfortable contributing to Sen. Charles Schumer at the DSCC and Rep. Rahm Emanuel at the DCCC than to Dean.


 The self-styled Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP), which has released low ratings for nearly all Republicans in Congress, and its sister organization ConservAmerica, are led by contributors to Democratic campaigns.

 REP board member Barbara Struthers in the 2004 campaign cycle gave $2,550 to Howard Dean, $2,600 to John Kerry and $1,250 to the Democratic National Committee. ConservAmerica board member Rudolph S. Rasin contributed more than $12,000 to Democratic Rep. Brian Baird of Washington.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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