Ghosts of the Old Senate Chamber Leave Mark on ‘Nuclear Option’ Deal

Senate institutionalists were the clear winners Tuesday, when the chamber averted a Democratic threat to end filibusters on executive branch nominees.

Unlike some past handshake deals to avert a procedural crises, this one might actually have a chance because senators seem more invested in the agreement after holding a three-and-a-half-hour long meeting to share their heartfelt feelings about why the filibuster is or isn’t a good thing.

For instance, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., conceded that there were problems with the GOP’s recent attempt to block nominations in an effort to force changes in law or make an agency impotent. That was the issue with the delay in confirming Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Cordray ultimately got confirmed, 66-34, on Tuesday evening.

Graham was among the Senate Republicans involved in conversations throughout the weekend that led to Tuesday’s deal.

In effect, Graham disavowed a previous letter from all Senate Republicans that said no one should be confirmed to helm the CFPB until changes were made to the agency. Critics called such a move “nullification” since the organizational structure of the CFPB essentially required a confirmed director to fully function.

A Tuesday morning test vote on Cordray received 17 votes from the GOP side, after discussions that involved Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Cordray’s home state of Ohio.

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