[The Washington Post]
1. The change the Senate made today is small but consequential: The filibuster no longer applies to judicial or executive-branch nominees. It still applies to bills and Supreme Court nominations.
2. Well, technically it still applies to all bills and Supreme Court nominations. In practice, legislation that mainly uses the government’s tax and spending powers can evade the filibuster using the budget reconciliation procedures. That’s how George W. Bush’s tax cuts passed, and how Obamacare was finished. As for the Supreme Court, it’s very hard to believe that Democrats or Republicans would accept filibusters of qualified Supreme Court nominees, either. And, as Democrats proved today, they don’t have to.
3. The filibuster now exists in what you might call an unstable equilibrium. It theoretically forces a 60-vote threshold on important legislation. But it can — and now, in part, has —been undone with 51 votes. Its only protection was the perceived norm against using the 51-vote option. Democrats just blew that norm apart. The moment one party or the other filibusters a consequential and popular bill, that’s likely the end of the filibuster, permanently.