Senate Republicans had no love for the filibuster when they were in the majority, even going so far as to discuss a "nuclear option" of abolishing it. But times have changed, and Republicans have discovered a new respect for this senatorial power as they face an enhanced Democratic majority. The Economist notes:
In 2005, Republicans held 55 Senate seats and fought a protracted battle over judicial nominations that climaxed in a threat to end the filibuster power of a 40-vote minority. At the time, Mr Kyl was passionate about the rights of the duly elected Republican majority.
"My friends argue that Republicans may want to filibuster a future Democratic President's nominees. To that I say, I don't think so, and even if true, I'm willing to give up that tool."
Now, the Democrats will have at least 58 votes in the Senate. Mr Kyl's new thinking:
"Mr Kyl...warned president-elect Barack Obama that he would filibuster U.S. Supreme Court appointments if those nominees were too liberal."
Republican Senator David Vitter is also threatening to filibuster the bailout of the auto industry which just passed the House. Vitter called the bailout plan "ass-backwards," an unfortunate phrase that Vitter might want to avoid.