(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
Ever-sensible Gail Collins, in the NYTimes:
… “If the Democrats proceed to use this nuclear option in this way, it will be Obamacare II,” cried Senator Lamar Alexander on Wednesday. This was in keeping with a brand-new Congressional tradition under which Republicans making remarks on the floor of the House or Senate are required to mention the Affordable Care Act at least once every 35 seconds….
The first nominee to come up for a vote, Patricia Millett, was a sort of double dare. She was an assistant solicitor general during the Bush administration. She had argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court. She volunteers at a homeless shelter. Her husband is a Navy veteran. Her husband was once deployed while Millett was arguing a case before the Supreme Court!
The Republicans blocked her nomination, which made it abundantly clear that the next two — Georgetown Law Professor Nina Pillard and Robert Wilkins, an African-American district court judge — weren’t going anywhere either…
Jon Chait, in NYMag, after The Fatal Vote:
…The main reason for this odd, partial clawback of the filibuster is that President Obama has no real legislative agenda that can pass Congress. At the beginning of the year, it seemed plausible that House Republicans might go along with immigration reform, but even that possibility now looks remote. Nothing can pass.
That reality means two things. The first is that President Obama’s second-term agenda runs not through Congress but through his own administrative agencies. His appointees are writing rules for financial reform, housing policy and — the potentially enormous one — climate emissions. Senate Republicans have tried to stymie this agenda by blocking executive-branch appointments, most recently filibustering the nomination of Mel Watt to run the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The executive-branch filibuster has become a primary Republican weapon against Obama’s agenda.
Their next line of defense is the D.C. Circuit, the federal court that handles regulatory cases. If and when the Environmental Protection Agency issues regulations on existing power plants, the D.C. Circuit will rule on their legality. Republicans had announced their intention to block any Obama appointment at all to the court’s three vacant positions in order to protect their party’s functional majority. (The court is currently split evenly, but it sends its overflow caseload to retired judges, who are mostly Republican.) The D.C. Circuit is where Republicans had hoped to block those parts of Obama’s executive agenda they couldn’t gum up by denying the agencies a functioning director….
The longtime counter-threat against the “nuclear option” has always been that the minority party will retaliate by wantonly blocking everything that passes through the Senate. But here is the second way in which the end of Obama’s legislative agenda has forced the nuclear confrontation. With immigration reform dead, or nearly dead, the Senate Republican retaliation amounts to threatening to burn down a building that is already in ashes….
Apart from admiring the glow, what’s on the agenda for the evening?