Senate Democrats reneged on the terms of a July deal to save the filibuster when they passed new rules on Thursday that would permit executive appointees and most judicial nominees to be approved by a simple majority. Under the terms of that deal, Republicans agreed to allow a vote on some of President Barack Obama’s most controversial executive nominees in exchange for preserving the filibuster for the future.
Under the deal, President Obama withdrew some of those nominees, including National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) nominee Richard F. Griffin, Jr. He then simply appointed Griffin to be the NLRB’s general counsel. That demonstration of bad faith culminated in Thursday’s 52-48 vote to end the filibuster. In the end, the GOP’s efforts to compromise ended with Obama and the Democrats taking everything they wanted after all.
The sudden end of the filibuster means that Republicans have no incentive whatsoever to negotiate with Democrats in the future. There is simply no way to trust that Democrats will keep their word. Obama and the Democrats may relish their temporary victory, and bask in the applause of a left-wing base desperate for signs of strength in the midst of the Obamacare debacle. But they have set the stage for major political war.
Those Republicans foolish enough to try to work with Democrats will now be tarnished as sell-outs–and with good reason. The party’s moderates will struggle to explain their positions as Tea Party challengers assert the need for bolder leadership in upcoming primary races. And the new Republican majority in the Senate–when it arises–will be tempted to retaliate by exercising majoritarian rule. They will not be fooled again.