Partisan fever in the Senate now likely to rise even further

The rule change lowered to a simple 51-vote majority the threshold to clear procedural hurdles on the way to the confirmation of judges and executive nominees. But it did nothing to streamline the gantlet that presidential nominees run. Republicans may not be able to muster the votes to block Democrats on procedure, but they can force every nomination into days of debate between every procedural vote in the Senate book — of which there will be many.

And legislation, at least for now, is still very much subject to the filibuster. On Thursday afternoon, as one Republican after another went to the Senate floor to lament the end of one type of filibuster, they voted against cutting off debate on the annual defense policy bill, a measure that has passed with bipartisan support every year for decades.

“Today’s historic change to Senate rules escalates what is already a hyperpartisan atmosphere in Washington, which is already preventing Congress from addressing our nation’s most significant challenges,” said former Senator Olympia Snowe, a Republican, and former Representative Dan Glickman, a Democrat, in a joint statement from the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Republican senators who were willing to team with Democrats on legislation like an immigration overhaul, farm policy and a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act will probably think twice in the future.