H/T to Hot Air for providing a link to perhaps the best, easiest to understand explanation for what happened, via Philip Klein at Beltway Confidential:
In a stunning turn of events this evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., used an arcane legislative maneuver to effectively rewrite Senate rules to make it harder for the minority party to force uncomfortable votes on the majority.Klein closes by saying this isn't a 'nuclear option' because it doesn't deal with filibusters; it deals with the amendment process. Nonetheless, it's certainly in the same spirit and it certainly changes the Senate rules.
The buildup to this point started on Tuesday, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tried to force a vote on President Obama's jobs bill as well as other Republican priorities by offering them as amendments to the China currency bill. Reid blocked the move.
Tonight, McConnell made what's called a "motion to suspend the rules," to allow a vote on the amendments. Such motions are almost always defeated, because they require a two-thirds majority to pass. But they're another way for the minority party to force uncomfortable votes. Even though the minority party doesn't get a direct vote on the amendment, how somebody votes on the motion becomes a sort of proxy for such a vote. In this case, for instance, if Democrats had voted down a motion for a vote on Obama's jobs bill, it would have put them in an awkward spot.
Though it's been the standing practice of the Senate to allow such motions by the minority, tonight Reid broke with precedent and ruled McConnell's motion out of order, and was ultimately backed up by Democrats.
It is fascinating, however, that the reason Harry Reid has gone to such lengths is the result of his unwillingness to allow his party to vote on a Bill supported by the POTUS, who is a member OF that party. This is shocking on many levels. This is prideful anger on display. Reid is too blinded by that anger to even realize that Obama's the source of it. Nonetheless, he's directing it at the Republicans.
Tangentially speaking, I'm waiting with bated breath to hear what John McCain thinks about this. Back in 2005, he was the Republican who led the infamous 'gang of 14' to prevent a Republican nuclear option involving the filibustering of judicial appointments, which was far more warranted. Appointments are supposed to get the 'advice and consent' of congress, not death by filibuster.
Hot Air has more.