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July 31, 2013 11:29 AM The Nuke Threat Worked

By Ed Kilgore

With out a whole lot of drama, the Senate approved all five NLRB appointments yesterday, giving that near-disabled agency a new lease on life. Whether it was the realization that a “revolt” would lead to deployment of the “nuclear option,” or just a desire to go home for the August recess, the Republican senators who were shrieking about the perfidy of the McCain-brokered, McConnell-approved deal to allow up-or-down votes on seven Obama nominees were pretty quiet.

Jonathan Bernstein had a useful analysis yesterday of the mechanics of the “deal” through four of the votes in question:

Through the first four closely contested cloture votes — Cordray for CFPB Perez for Labor, McCarthy for EPA, and Hirozawa for NLRB…
Four Republicans voted for cloture all four times: Collins, Corker, McCain, and Murkowski.
Three Republicans voted for cloture three times: Alexander, Flake, and Graham.
Five Republicans, Ayotte, Wicker, Isakson, Portman, and Kirk, voted for cloture twice.
And another nine Republicans voted for cloture a single time.
In those closest vote, Perez for Labor, Alexander (3 times) and Kirk (twice) voted with the solid four to make it 60-40.
Those are the cloture votes. The confirmation votes were generally close; Hirozawa and Perez were party-line votes.

So whether it was McConnell or McCain coordinating the “deal,” the blame was spread around pretty well, and the “solid four” voting every time for cloture included just one senator up for re-election in 2014: Maine’s Susan Collins, who won’t be facing any right-wing primary challenges.

However you analyze how Republicans handled this situation, it’s clear Harry Reid’s nuclear threat worked, at least on this limited battle-ground. And he didn’t give up the right to pursue the nuclear option in the future. While I’d still prefer an actual implementation of the nuclear option, the fact remains: as one of those progressive writers who’ve doubted Harry Reid’s good faith and resolution on this subject, I have to give him credit for pulling off this maneuver with considerable flair.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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