The Senate came to the brink of nuclear war today, stepping away at the last minute. Or, at least, that's the rhetoric that made the actual politics engaging. In reality, the chamber avoided a rule change that would prohibit some filibusters in exchange for approving five of seven nominees from Obama to administration positions. Exciting!
Until last evening, it appeared that the "nuclear option" — a change of the Senate's rules to disallow filibusters on presidential appointees — was a viable option. An unusual, late-evening private meeting of the full Senate last night didn't resolve the dispute between the two political parties. A strong majority of the chamber's Democrats supported amending the rules, should today's votes on seven nominees be obstructed. Every Republican opposed it.
But it appears that this is no longer an issue. The seven appointees being voted upon included:
- Richard Cordray, to be the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Gina McCarthy, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency
- Thomas Perez, to lead the Department of Labor
- Fred Hochberg, to lead the U.S. Export-Import Bank
- Mark Gaston Pearce, Sharon Block, and Richard Griffin, to sit on the National Labor Relations Board