The U.S. Senate has eliminated the filibuster for all presidential nominees except Supreme Court justices – paving the way for U.S. President Barack Obama to appoint a flood of controversial appointments to the executive and judicial branches of government.
“It’s time to change the Senate before this institution becomes obsolete,” Reid said in announcing a vote on the rules change.
Reid’s rule change – long referred to as the “nuclear option” – passed by a simple majority vote of 52-48. Three Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the measure – Carl Levin of Michigan, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.
Under the old rules, Democrats needed sixty votes to block filibusters of presidential nominees. Now they only need a simple majority.
Reid immediately used the rule change to confirm liberal judge Patricia Millett to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals – the second-highest court in the nation. Obama has been eager to fill several vacancies on this court in an effort to obtain more favorable rulings in his second term – and Reid made it clear back in August that swinging the balance of power on this court back in Obama’s favor was a top priority.
“There’s three vacancies, we need at least one more, and that will switch the majority,” he said at the time.
But this is about more than just judges, it’s about all of Barack Obama’s executive appointments too … in fact were this rules change in effect back in the spring, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) would have never had an opportunity to stage his famous filibuster on the issue of drone strikes.
The move is also a rebuke of liberal “Republicans” such as Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Lamar Alexander and Lindsey Graham, all of whom have played footsie with Democrats on these appointments in the past.