Reid Makes Latest Offer In FEC Standoff

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Monday that President Bush has two options to break the ongoing standoff with Democrats over nominations to the Federal Election Commission: either withdraw the controversial nomination of Hans von Spakovsky or force Senate Republicans to agree to votes on individual FEC nominees.

"Despite your commitment that you would accept and agree to individual votes on each of the pending nominations, including Mr. von Spakovsky's, Republican Senate leaders indicated last week that they intend to continue to block such votes," Reid said in a letter to White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten.

With only two working commissioners in place, the FEC lacks the four-person quorum needed to take any official action. Lacking a quorum, the commission has been unable to rule on several key campaign finance questions as the presidential race heats up.

In the letter, Reid said Senate Republicans are responsible for the stalemate, arguing that he had offered to hold votes on each FEC nomination last December, only to have Senate Republicans reject the offer and insist on voting on the commissioners as a group.

"The only ground for this demand is the erroneous argument that FEC nominations always move as a package in this way," Reid said. "That is simply not true. Individual votes were taken on the nominations of Brad Smith and Danny MacDonald."

On May 6, Bush nominated Democrat Cynthia Bauerly and Republicans Don McGahn and Caroline Hunter to try and fill vacancies on the panel in an attempt to break the stalemate. However, Bush refused to drop the nomination of von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department lawyer whom Democrats strenuously object to, causing Democrats to reject the overture.

On Monday, Reid also offered to renominate Republican FEC Commissioner David Mason if Bush agreed to drop von Spakovsky's nomination.

A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to comment on Reid's latest proposal.