A historic showdown in the Senate is looming after a rare, closed-door meeting of all but two of the 100 senators failed to produce a deal to avoid a change to the chamber's rules. Unless lawmakers can hammer out a deal this morning, a vote this morning on the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau could trigger Harry Reid's threat to use the "nuclear option" to reform the filibuster via a party-line vote, reports the Washington Post. Reid says the GOP can avoid the showdown by allowing simple-majority confirmations on presidential nominees for executive branch positions, including Cordray, that it has been blocking.
Reid says banning filibusters against executive branch nominations would be a narrow change, but it will still be the biggest change in how the Senate operates in 40 years and could pave the way for the total death of the filibuster, the New York Times notes. Reid appears to have President Obama's support for the threatened change: White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters last night that the Senate "needs to confirm this president's nominees in a timely and efficient manner," and that will be true "for the next president, and the next president after that. This has become ridiculous." Asked whether Obama fears that the change could make the Senate more dysfunctional, Carney said, "it boggles the mind how they would achieve that," the AP reports.