The US Senate took the unprecedented step this week of revising its filibuster rule by simple majority, to allow confirmation of most presidential nominations free of filibusters. “The change is the most fundamental shift in the way the Senate functions in more than a generation,” said the New York Times.
The implications of this change are staggeringly enormous. First, it’ll change the composition of the federal courts in the near term. Second, it will start the Senate down the path to majority rule. Having changed its rules once by simple majority, the Senate will likely begin doing so more frequently. What Majority Leader, in the midst of a battle over a major bill, will restrain him- or herself from breaking a filibuster by simple majority, now that a precedent exists for doing so. For the many reasons I have described, this is a very good thing for Cascadian sustainability.
Whatever issues you care about, the United States just became a little bit more democratic, more governable, less gridlocked. The filibuster, argues Ezra Klein, is essentially dead already. This obscure procedural change may end up shaping our future more than almost anything else that happened this year. Klein, again: “[This reform] has changed how all congresses to come will work. Indeed, this might prove to be one of the most significant congresses in modern times.”