Now that the filibuster is officially dead for nominations to the executive and the judiciary, with the exception of nominations to the Supreme Court, what happens next? For the relative short term, it should mean an Obama administration and a Democratic Senate hell-bent on seating federal judges to end the judicial emergency and put a progressive stamp on the federal judiciary for the next generation.
It means as well that the Senate still considers the Supreme Court extraordinary, and (hearkening back to the 2005 debate when the nuclear option was averted by the Gang of 14 agreeing to only filibuster nominees in extraordinary circumstances) will still allow the minority to have a significant check on appointments to that body. At least for now. Should President Obama have to fill a seat in the next three years, you can bet Republicans will be falling all over themselves to filibuster that one. They have not been chastened by this breaking of the filibuster—it's just made them more belligerent. (Example: Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is promising their won't be any circumspection from them over the Supreme Court if they get the majority back). Essentially, then, the filibuster for Supreme Court nominee's days are probably numbered. Which means Democrats have to keep at the Senate and the White House until the GOP as it exists today totally self-destructs. That could take a while.
There's still a big filibuster problem, however, demonstrated just hours after Senate Democrats pulled the nuclear trigger. Republicans have been obstructing movement on the defense authorization bill all week by refusing to allow the amendments on sexual assault to be considered. Fed up, Reid tried to move the bill clean, without any amendments, and the Republicans hinted at when he opened his remarks about the filibuster today. He rattled off all of the legislative efforts he and Democrats have pushed that have died by the filibuster.
It's not too likely that Democrats will act to reform the filibuster for legislation before the next "official" opportunity to do so, the beginning of the next Congress in January 2015. At that point, the reform that Sens. Tom Harkin, Jeff Merkley and Tom Udall have been working on for years should be put forward by what we hope will be the majority Democrats, to make the filibuster a real and difficult thing to accomplish again. Restoring the talking filibuster, the kind of filibuster Wendy David made famous, will be the end cap on fixing the Senate.