BREAKING NEWS ~ US House, Senate make deal on bill to keep Schiavo alive

BREAKING NEWS ~ US House, Senate make deal on bill to keep Schiavo alive

[JURIST] WNBC in New York is reporting that US House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has announced a compromise with Senate leaders on a federal legislative initiative to keep Terri Schiavo alive by allowing her case to be appealed to the federal courts. The Senate will meet to consider the measure later today; the House will meet Sunday.

Earlier Saturday DeLay had criticized the US Supreme Court [DeLay press release] for turning down without reasons {SCOTUSblog post] a late Friday appeal [AP report] by the US House of Representatives asking the justices to modify Judge George Greer's order to remove Schiavo's feeding tube in order to allow her to appear as a subpoenaed witness at a House Government Reform Committee hearing on March 25.

4:55 PM ET – A full AP story on the federal legislative compromise is now available here. The text of Majority Leader DeLay's announcement earlier this afternoon is now online in a press release. Jackson's Junction video blog has recorded video of the DeLay press conference as originally broadcast live on C-SPAN.

5:45 PM ET – House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist have issued this statement on the legislative initiative:

This legislation will allow a federal district judge to consider a claim by or on behalf of Mrs. Schiavo for alleged violations of Constitutional rights or federal laws relating to the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids, or medical treatment necessary to sustain her life. We want to thank Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid for working with us towards a legislative solution. The House and Senate will act as quickly as possible to send this legislation to the President for his signature.

The Senate will meet today at 5:00 p.m. to pass an adjournment. Passing an adjournment resolution will enable us to bring both the House and Senate back into session under our emergency powers. The House will meet at 1:00 pm on Sunday, March 20th in the hope of receiving unanimous consent to take up the measure. If unanimous consent cannot be attained, the measure will be considered on the House Suspension Calendar as early as 12:01 a.m. Monday, March 21. The Senate will continue to work through the weekend to ensure the bill can be passed shortly after the House has acted.

Read the full text of the Hastert/Frist statement.

7:50 PM ET – The Political Teen weblog has recorded video of a Senate press conference [via C-SPAN; part 2 here] from earlier this evening on the Senate bill and progress of the Schiavo legislation, now expected to pass Sunday or early Monday. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) praised Democratic leaders for allowing the legislation to go forward even though they did not agree with it.

For additional background and materials, see JURIST's news archive on the Schiavo right-to-die case.