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Fourteen Republican and Democratic senators announced this evening they had reached a compromise designed to prevent a showdown over President Bush’s judicial nominations.

Fourteen Republican and Democratic senators announced this evening they had reached a compromise designed to prevent a showdown over President Bush’s judicial nominations.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), speaking for the group of seven Republicans and seven Democrats, announced the agreement at a news conference at 7:40 p.m.

Under the deal, the Democrats agreed to accept cloture votes on three of President Bush’s judicial nominees: Priscilla R. Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor.

In return, the Republicans pledged not to support the so-called “nuclear option” to end the ability of the minority to use filibusters to block nominees.

The group of senators, including Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Robert Byrd of West Virginia, said the Senate leadership had signaled it would go along with the compromise.

The Democrats made no commitments regarding two other conservative judicial nominees, Henry Saad and William Myers.

“In a Senate that is increasingly polarized, the bipartisan center held,” said Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.).

“The Senate is back in business,” echoed Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Word of the agreement came after leaders of both parties indicated they expected the dispute to come to a head tomorrow, and Bush reiterated his insistence on “an up-or-down vote” for his nominees.

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