From current Roll Call:
With the roster of contentious nomination hearings filling up, Senate Republicans are moving quickly to rule on Sen. Arlen Specter’s (R-Pa.) bid to chair the Judiciary Committee with a pair of meetings Tuesday likely to determine his fate.
Recognizing that conservative activists intend to keep up the pressure to deny Specter the chairmanship, Senate leaders have set a meeting with the moderate Republican for Tuesday morning; the Pennsylvanian is slated to sit down with the nine other GOP members of the panel later that afternoon.
Aides said Specter still has the opportunity to lock up the chairmanship, but they stressed that it was extremely important to resolve the matter now rather than let it drag into early January, when committee chairmanships and panel rosters will be officially revealed.
Deciding who runs the panel sooner rather than later will allow for orderly preparations for the potentially volatile nomination hearings of Attorney General-designate Alberto Gonzales, even as Supreme Court observers anxiously watch Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s bout with thyroid cancer and speculation mounts that he may resign from the court soon.
Senate Judiciary Committee members should be in the pressure cooker now more than ever.