The Senate detonated the nuclear option to do away with the filibuster for Executive and most Judicial Branch nominees, allowing the body to cut off debate on these votes with a simple majority, rather than the 60-vote threshold that had previously stood. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid set in motion a series of arcane procedures, little understood outside the body, to change the way the Chamber operates with only 51 votes, rather than the normal 67. Since the vote dramatically weakened the minority, it was a galling blow to them, and no Republican voted for the change, although 3 Democrats voted against it.
Procedural rules are mystifying to the vast majority of the public, so it helps to have someone explain them clearly. Roll Call’s rules expert Niels Lesniewski held an open thread on Reddit explaining what happened.
Without a doubt, this will have long-term consequences for the country. Supporters say this will make the Congress more efficient. Others warn that it will heighten the significance of elections, lead to more radical judges, and any number of things.
And for our latest blog post: The Obamacare Rollout and Past Healthcare Reform Attempts