Senate Filibuster Decision On Ashcroft May Come Next Week

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:27 PM EDT

( - A spokesman for Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) said Friday that the Senate Judiciary Committee's leading liberal may make a decision sometime next week on whether to stage a Senate filibuster to block a confirmation vote on Attorney General-designate John Ashcroft.

"Senator Kennedy has not ruled anything in or out, but he is signaling a possible filibuster," according to his spokesman Jim Manley.

Kennedy wants to consult with his Senate Democratic colleagues first. At least one of those Democrat's, Georgia's Senator Zell Miller, has said he will vote in favor of Ashcroft.

Friday is the third - and perhaps the final - day of Ashcroft's Senate confirmation hearings.

Kennedy is very criticial of Ashcroft's record on abortion rights and affirmative action.

Insiders say that even if Kennedy launches a filibuster, Republicans may be able to muster the 60 votes that are needed to break the procedural roadblock and permit the full Senate to vote on Ashcroft's confirmation.

Senate Republican leaders have said they expect all 50 of the chamber's Republicans to vote for Ashcroft, along with a number of Democrats as well.

Many liberal groups do not want Ashcroft confirmed. However, President-elect Bush, in a Fox News television interview Thursday, continued to defend his selection of Ashcroft as Attorney General. He believes liberals are using Ashcroft's Senate hearings as a way to energize their base.

"There's going to be voices in Washington that'll never concede that I made a good choice. But I'm not interested in those, the leaders of the special interest groups, the people whose job it is to scream the loudest so they can raise more money," Bush said.

"I'm interested in the people -- the people outside the Beltway, the people throughout all the country, who are going to say now I understand why President Bush named John Ashcroft."

Bush predicts eventual Senate confirmation of Ashcroft.

"People are going to say whatever it takes to try to defeat this man. They're not going to defeat him. And when it's all said and done, John Ashcroft is going to be the attorney general," said Bush.