Are Republicans Abusing Their Power in Congress?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," May 11, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Democrats are in the minority in both the House and the Senate, a position that severely limits their power. And to make matters worse, they're now charging that Republicans are abusing their power in an attempt to rubber-stamp the president's agenda.

Joining me now is former campaign manager for John McCain (search), Republican strategist Rick Davis, and the author of "Bush Must Go," Bill Press.


GIBSON: Bill, that didn't work out too good.

PRESS: Still a good idea.

GIBSON: I'm going to go to Rick first.


GIBSON: Are Republicans using or, as Bill would say, abusing their power in Congress?

DAVIS: Well, I hope they're using their power in Congress. The people gave it to them.

I mean, elections have consequences. And, in the last election, the Republicans won the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. And the only people who seem to have a hard time dealing with that is the leadership of the Democratic Party.

GIBSON: You know, Bill, a lot of people think that filibuster is an abuse of power.

PRESS: Well, first of all, I've got to say, I met Davis in New Hampshire in 2000, when he was working with John McCain. I wish he would listen to John McCain.

John McCain, among other Republicans, says, this nuclear option — getting rid of the filibuster — is not a good idea. The House should not rubber-stamp any president's decision. Look at the numbers, John. George Bush got 208 out of 218 judges, 95 percent. You know what? If I got 95 — if I got 55 percent of anything I wanted — I would be a happy man. I think the Republicans ought to stop whining and get back to work.


GIBSON: Rick, why not take Bill's point?

DAVIS: The issue isn't all about the nuclear option. That's one aspect.

But look at what has happened in this session of Congress already. Every proposal that's been made out of the leadership or the White House has been ballyhooed against it by the Democratic leadership. A real solid effort was made by the president of the United States to bring one of the most important issues of our time onto the forefront, which was Social Security.

And the only thing that the Democratic leadership has given him is lip service. That was long before anybody started talking about the nuclear option. If the Democrats want to cooperate and get something done for the country, they should not focus on the negative. They ought to try and come across the aisle.

PRESS: John, John, Rick, Rick, come on. There is an opposition party. I mean, I'm not that old, but I'm old enough to remember that Republicans weren't exactly rolling over for everything that Bill Clinton sent up to the Congress.

Deal with it. Democrats may not support something George Bush wants, especially if it's a bad idea. And you know what that is called? It's called democracy. That's democracy.

DAVIS: The first 100 days of both of Bill Clinton's terms of office were seen as a lot more productive by both sides of the aisle than this one has been.

This is the continuous campaign. The Democrats have basically said, look, we refuse to accept the consequences of an election. And if they're going to take that tack, you're never going to get anything done.


GIBSON: They're in negotiations, Bill.

PRESS: What do you want, 100 percent? Go ahead, John. I'm sorry.


GIBSON: Yes, he does.

DAVIS: How about 1 percent?


GIBSON: Bill, of course he wants 100 percent. Look, there are negotiations going on, so that there will be something given — the president gets something out of this. And if the Democrats promise to not use the filibuster, maybe the Republicans won't blow it up. After all, they can.


GIBSON: So, would you recommend to your Democratic friends that maybe they cooperate with Rick a little more, so that there can be a deal, so you still have your filibuster and Bush gets what he wants?

PRESS: My recommendation would be to stand up for what you believe. If you believe these judges are extreme judges and not good for the American republic, then they ought to stand up for them and use...


GIBSON: But, Bill.


GIBSON: If Rick takes your advice, if he stands up for what he believes, the filibuster goes away.

PRESS: Fine, and use any tools that are available, including the filibuster. Just like Republicans used the filibuster against Bill Clinton, Democrats ought to use it against George Bush.

GIBSON: OK. Are you going to take his advice?



GIBSON: Fine. I stand up for what I believe. I'm going to blow up this filibuster.

DAVIS: Americans are all about fair play. And, in fair play, you count up the votes. You see who is ahead. And the winner and the majority always rules.


DAVIS: And what the Democrats are using is a parliamentary technique that has never been historically accepted as the way to keep federal judges from the bench — either Supreme Court justices, second court judges or anything else.


GIBSON: Rick Davis and Bill Press, they will fight to the end of their breath. Thank you, both. I have got to run. Appreciate it, guys.

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