Congress is back with a daunting must-do list, but its first order of business was the Iran nuclear deal. Senate Democrats successfully filibustered a disapproval resolution on Thursday that was meant to kill the deal. The vote was 58-42 —Senate Republicans and other opponents needed 60 to pass.
Republican senators are set to meet today to figure out one of those big things they need to figure out before the next Congress: whether to undo the “nuclear option” on executive and judicial nominations. This was procedural maneuver that majority leader Harry Reid made, finally, about a year ago, eliminating the 60-vote threshold to invoke cloture on judicial and executive branch nominations (except for Supreme Court justices). Reid triggered the move after years of Republicans filibustering more or less every nominee of any import for no reason other than to irritate Democrats and gum up the work of agencies and benches that Republicans do not care for. It was a much-needed modernization of the chamber’s rules in a polarized age.
Democrats on the verge of losing their majority in the Senate can take some solace: At least they'll still have the filibuster that Republicans used against them so aggressively the last four years. The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from the good government group Common Cause that challenged the constitutionality of the longstanding Senate rule that effectively created a 60-vote, or three-fifths, threshold for most legislation. The case, which was always a long shot for the plaintiffs, featured a couple of oddities.
Six months after he triggered a historic change to the Senate rules, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Tuesday suggested further weakening the filibuster if Republicans continue to force delays on presidential nominees.
The change the Senate made today is small but consequential: The filibuster no longer applies to judicial or executive-branch nominees. It still applies to bills and Supreme Court nominations.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pulled the trigger Thursday, deploying a parliamentary procedure dubbed the "nuclear option" to change Senate rules to pass most executive and judicial nominees by a simple majority vote. The Senate voted 52 to 48 for the move, with just three Democrats declining to go along with the rarely used maneuver.
By paralyzing the Senate, Republicans drove Harry Reid to act.
After years of threats and warnings, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and his Democratic majority on Thursday executed the "nuclear option" to eliminate the filibuster for executive branch and judicial nominees, except for the Supreme Court. Fifty-two Democrats voted against upholding the filibuster rules after Republicans again blocked cloture on the nomination of Patricia Millett to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Democratic Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) voted with Republicans to sustain the filibuster rules.