Potentially ending a stand-off over the use of filibusters to block Executive Branch nominees, the Senate voted 71-29 to end debate on the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Board. The Senate is scheduled to vote later today to end debate on several other executive nominations.
For what it’s worth, I have mixed feelings on this development. While I think the filibuster can play an important role in Senate deliberations on substantive legislation, I believe creating a de facto super-majority requirement for nominations is wholly inappropriate. Therefore, it would have been fine with me had the Senate barred the use of the filibuster for nominations to the Executive Branch. Indeed, were it up to me, there would be no filibusters for any nominations, including to the judiciary. It is one thing for the Senate to structure its own rules for the conduct of legislative business, but when it comes to those things on the Executive Calendar (e.g. nominations and treaties), I believe that the constitutional defaults should apply. So it should only take a simple majority of the Senate to confirm one of the President’s nominees.
UPDATE: TPM has more on the deal to disarm the “nuclear option.” Apparently the GOP will allow the President to fill all seven positions at issue but two of the NLRB nominees — Sharon Block and Richard Griffin — will be replaced with individuals to be named within the next month or so.