Washington gets uglier as the days pass. The Senate vote today to eliminate the Senate’s rule that had permitted filibustering on presidential nominations of non-Supreme Court and executive appointments was a long time coming. It was a legitimate and correct but also a very sad statement about the state of affairs in Washington. Clearly the case can be made on both sides of the so-called “nuclear” vote, but what it should have never have come to this point. While permitting Senators to filibuster nominations is upsetting and its repeated use was unnecessarily disruptive, if its use had been selective, less angry, and less vindictive it would never have come to a vote.
Through this vote, 52-48, Republican Senators were finally stymied in their consistent and persistent policy of attacking anything the President wanted to do or any nomination he sought to advance. The Democrats know full well that this vote may well return to haunt them when the inevitably lose control of the Senate, but regardless of what some of the Senate traditionalists will argue, there was nothing sacred about the rule. In addition, for the Democrats it was necessary for them to assert some power and leadership in the Senate and force Republican votes that were opposing qualified and recommended judicial appointments and Executive nominees.
Democrats recognized that they may well be beaten up in some of their re-election campaigns because of these votes; but it was time to admit to all that any semblance of bi-partisanship sadly was over. For many of the Democratic Senators, however, it permitted a bit of media distraction from the on-going hullabaloo over ObamaCare which they know will haunt them as the return home for Thanksgiving. This brief respite, they all recognize, will hit regardless of the results, when the bell on the clock strikes midnight on November 30.