The decision by Senate Democrats to slash the minority party's filibuster powers on Thursday has given the White House a much-needed boost amid weeks of playing defense on its botched healthcare rollout.
A day after the controversial move executed by Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidLawmakers haggle over funding bill as shutdown nears Overnight Tech: Big win for Samsung over Apple | Trump to sit down with tech leaders | Trump claims credit for B investment deal Overnight Energy: Senate Dems set to fight water bill MORE (D-Nev.), the mood in the West Wing corridors seemed to lift slightly. Senior administration officials hailed the move as one that would help advance President Obama's priorities.
Now, with the newly enacted filibuster reform, nominees such as Mel Watt, Obama's pick to head up the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and Federal Reserve nominee Janet Yellen, can move quickly through the Senate — something that seemed to energize aides who have been pummeled by weeks of negative press because of the Affordable Care Act rollout.
“This is a really good thing,” another senior administration official said. “And to that extent, people are looking forward to it. It enhances the ability of the president to get his nominees involved in his agenda.”
Senior administration officials say it will be up to Reid — not the president — to draw the line on what's acceptable.
But the first official cautioned: “Anyone anticipating a rush of radical nominees is not basing that on anything real.”
On Thursday, Obama declared that “enough is enough” and hailed the move by Senate Democrats for changing the body's rules to prevent a filibuster on nominations other than Supreme Court nods.
“Today's pattern of obstruction just isn't normal,” Obama said in brief remarks at the White House.
The president said the gridlock in Congress “has not served the cause of justice, in fact it has undermined it.”
One former senior administration official said the move by Reid was “a necessary step.”
“And it came at a time when we really, really needed it,” the former official said.