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November 25, 2013 12:25 PM No, the World Didn’t End

By Ed Kilgore

I’m a bit amused at some of the articles dribbling out of Washington at present that find various silver linings for the demise of the filibuster against executive-branch and lower-court-judicial appointments. I mean, we all know it Killed the Senate As We Know It, at which act the angels are still weeping, and it spoiled the great and dignified work of the “gangs” cutting ad hoc deals to avoid this or that filibuster. I know it’s hard to imagine anything that would significantly offset such terrible damage—what will Lindsey Graham do between primary challenges?—but The Hill’s Elise Viebeck finds one that has the added bonus of giving Republicans a trophy to mount on its wall:

Kathleen Sebelius may become the biggest loser in the Senate’s approval of filibuster reform.
The Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary has kept her job despite the botched rollout of ObamaCare’s insurance exchanges, but it will now be easier for Obama to replace her.
After the Senate’s vote, confirming an executive-branch nominee now takes just 51 Senate votes. Some think that raises the likelihood Sebelius will soon be a former Cabinet member.
“The president’s hands were previously tied,” said John Hudak, a fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, who wrote a piece on the topic Thursday.
“Now, he has more breathing room and he is able to fire whoever he wants at HHS. That’s a very, very appealing approach, whether it fixes the problems with ObamaCare’s rollout or not.”

Better yet, Democrats can approve appointments to the Obamacare Death Panel without Republicans getting their hands dirty with complicity in genocide.

The filibuster vote could also make it easier for Obama to fill the healthcare law’s controversial cost-cutting board, another big advantage for the president.
Known as IPAB, the panel has no members yet is meant to submit its first proposed cuts in January. Any nominees from Obama require Senate confirmation, which is now an easier prospect.
Before Thursday’s vote, Obama’s nominees needed 60 votes to survive procedural motions. Now they need 51.

And hey, maybe the nuclear option shattered the deal-making dreams of “moderate” Republicans, but it might help keep some Democratic “centrists” in the Senate:

Beyond helping Obama, the change could make life easier for some of the Senate Democrats who face tough reelection contests in 2014. The chamber is controlled by 53 Democrats and two Independents who caucus with the majority party.
“Obama now has breathing room among Democrats,” Hudak said
.
“He can actually let some of the Democrats who are in tough races off the hook, which has some real electoral implications for those members.”

So see? Maybe we’ll all survive after all.

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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