The Senate became less of a deliberative body today and more of a gilded, blue-carpeted rubber stamp as Harry Reid and most of the chamber’s Democrats voted to employ the “nuclear option,” eliminating the 60-vote requirement for cloture on most cabinet and judicial nominees. The Democratic majority leader did so with the full support of the president, who lauded the Senate’s decision. But this reversal of Senate precedent and tradition will likely beget further modification of rules in subsequent Congresses.
Reid’s decision appeared at first to be bravado, no different from his threats to use the nuclear option in 2012. But this week rumors swirled, stoked by congressional aides, that Reid was serious. Today he made good on his threats, leading a vote which ended the practice of filibustering nominees as we know it.