Just before the Senate went nuclear last month and changed its rules to allow a simple majority vote to approve most executive and judicial nominees, Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, warned that Democrats would “rue the day they do it.” Well, they did it. And the new, nuclear Senate has just taken its first course of business. Sound the alarm!
Well, not really. Because all they actually did today was vote 56-38 to send Patricia Millett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Cue the maniacal laugh from the White House. Or, you know, just a statement saying that the president is “pleased.”
The Senate is now moving to a confirmation vote for Rep. Mel Watt, Obama’s Federal Housing Finance Agency nominee. Watt got shut out of confirmation on his last vote when a filibuster on his nomination was still allowed, with a 56-42 vote in his favor. If he winds up getting a similar show of support now that the Senate is nuclear, he’ll be a shoo-in.
There is definitely potential for some Democratic rueing down the road. But so far, for all the lamenting about tradition and warnings of a legislative apocalypse, the new Senate is looking pretty tame.