The New York Times reports that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate Majority Leader, has followed through on a longstanding promise to reform the filibuster. Colloquially, any tactic that involves changing the filibuster –wherein a Senate minority may logjam any progress until cut off by a cloture vote of 60 votes– has been referred to as the “nuclear option,” because much like the first strike in a nuclear war, it could quickly lead to retribution and escalation that brings about the end of the filibuster in general.
The proposal that was passed 52-48 yesterday, all with Democratic votes, eliminates the filibuster in all Executive appointments except for Supreme Court justices. In addition, filibuster threats will still remain for bills and other pieces of legislation. The action actually mirrors some of the proposals floated during George W. Bush’s second term in office.
It is, of course, worth noting that many Democrats (including then-Senator Obama) vehemently opposed such a proposal during the Bush administration. In both cases, the charge was the same: needless obstruction of Federal Judges (specifically those on the DC Appeals Court). However, what varies is the severity of the obstruction. I even wrote a column on this topic last year, wherein I was adamant that Democrats should not overplay their hand and scrap the filibuster.
The reasoning is somewhat simple. When Republicans inevitably take over the Senate in 2014, they will be in control of both Houses of Congress. Given the incompetency and stupidity (It is truly impossible to overstate this) of the Democratic Party, I seriously doubt the party will pick up seats in the 2016 elections, meaning that a President Chris Christie or Ted Cruz would preside over a unified government.
However, I seriously doubt that they would be so kind anyways. Even if the filibuster had not been gutted yesterday, I do not doubt that the filibuster would have been done away with in the Cruz Administration. Whether it is the Government-shutdown or amazingly non-opaque efforts to rig the electoral college, these people just do not play fair.
That being said, it is imperative to note that President Obama has faced unprecedented opposition for his nominees. Half of the filibusters in the history of the country for executive offices have occurred in the last five years. The current system is truly unsustainable if we wish to run a functional government.
Brains & Eggs has more.