Filibuster Deal Averts ‘Nuclear Option’ As Senators Reach Tentative Agreement

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Harry Reid cut a deal with John McCain to end the Senate showdown over filibusters that yielded an immediate victory for Democrats as 17 Republicans joined them to break the filibuster of Obama’s CFPB nominee.

After Reid and John McCain negotiated a deal to break the filibusters on several of President Obama’s nominees, results came quickly as the Senate voted 71-29 to move forward on the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). The president had to use a recess appointment to put Cordray in the job 18 months ago, because Republicans refused to confirm him. One massive, and very serious, threat from Harry Reid to take away their filibuster powers on Obama’s nominees away resulted in Republicans begging for mercy and quickly coming to the table to cut a deal.

The deal that Reid and McCain cut is expected to result in the confirmations of Gina McCarthy as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Thomas Perez as Secretary of Labor, and Fred Hochberg as chairman of the Export-Import Bank. The president is expected to pull two of his three NLRB nominees that Republicans have issues with, and replace them with people who will quickly be approved by the Senate.

It might look like Harry Reid caved, but he is getting exactly what Senate Democrats and the White House wanted all along. The quick vote on Cordray today illustrates that the Republican filibuster strategy was never about the nominees themselves. They know that the president has nominated competent people. It was a devious tactic designed to weaken the Obama presidency.

It’s great that Obama will finally get more of his people in place, but the problem of Republicans abusing the filibuster still remains. All in all, the damage has already been done. Reid should have taken these steps years ago to end Republican filibuster abuse of Obama’s executive branch nominees. It is nice that the Majority Leader finally did what needed to be done, but the problem of Obama’s filibustered judicial nominees remains.

For this reason, nobody should be surprised if this filibuster fight is revisited again in a matter of months.

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