NBC News: "The Senate has voted to change one of the chamber's most fundamental rules, invoking the so-called 'nuclear option' for executive branch and non-Supreme Court judicial nominations. Fifty-two Democrats voted for the measure, an unprecedented change previously threatened but not invoked until Thursday. Three Democrats -- Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Pryor of Arkansas -- voted with Republicans against the change. The vote overturned an existing rule that required a 60-vote majority for the approval of presidential nominees. Now, just a simple majority will be required for executive branch and judicial nominees except for Supreme Court picks."
Washington Post: "The Senate vote Thursday to lower the barriers for presidential nominations should make it easier for President Obama to accomplish key second-term priorities, including tougher measures on climate change and financial regulation, that have faced intense opposition from Republicans in Congress."
New York Times: On "the immediate horizon, the strong-arm move....could usher in an era of rank partisan warfare beyond even what Americans have seen in the past five years. Ultimately, a small group of centrists — Republicans and Democrats — could find the muscle to hold the Senate at bay until bipartisan solutions can be found. But for the foreseeable future, Republicans, wounded and eager to show they have not been stripped of all power, are far more likely to unify against the Democrats who humiliated them in such dramatic fashion."
Washington Post's Paul Kane: "In the long term, the rule change represents a substantial power shift in a chamber that for more than two centuries has prided itself on affording more rights to the minority party than any other legislative body in the world. Now, a president whose party holds the majority in the Senate is virtually assured of having his nominees approved, with far less opportunity for political obstruction."
The Hill: "Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the Senate’s leading critic of the Affordable Care Act, denounced a vote Thursday to prohibit filibusters against appellate court nominees as a scheme to save the health law."
New York Times' Jonathan Martin: " Republicans are planning to use the troubled health law against Democrats in next year’s midterm elections, but the Affordable Care Act is increasingly dividing their party, too. At the annual meeting here of the nation’s Republican governors, the ones who are eyeing presidential runs in 2016 say they oppose the health care law. But there is sharp disagreement among those who have helped carry out the law and those who remain entrenched in their opposition."
The Wall Street Journal writes, "Prominent Republican governors have pegged their political fortunes to the expansion, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is often mentioned as a White House hopeful in 2016, and others who have potentially difficult re-elections next year, such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. Their decision to expand the state-run health-care program for the poor marks a sharp split from the bulk of the party at a time when most Republicans have decried President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement.
Politico: "Health and Human Services plans to delay the start of the second year of Obamacare enrollment by one month to allow insurers more time to set rates after assessing their plan experiences during 2014, a department official said Thursday night. The decision means that sign-ups for the 2015 plan year would begin on Nov. 15, 2014 and end on Jan. 15, 2015 instead of the Oct. 15-Dec. 7 window previously announced."
Los Angeles Times: "The nomination of Janet L. Yellen to be the next leader of the Federal Reserve cleared the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday. The panel voted 14 to 8 in favor of the former UC Berkeley professor and current Fed vice chair, with three Republican members joining 11 Democrats in sending the nomination to the Senate floor. If confirmed, Yellen would be the first woman to lead the 100-year-old central bank."
AP: "Many Republican activists, citing Congress' deep unpopularity, say they want a governor to be their next presidential nominee. The buzz centers on New Jersey's Chris Christie for now, but Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is using a national book tour to try to climb into the 2016 conversation. A small but potentially potent group of GOP insiders say he's a can-do governor with Christie's good qualities, and few of Christie's downsides."
NBC's Tom Curry: "Walker "made the case Thursday for himself – or another governor – as the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nominee. Walker...said at the American Enterprise Institute that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, possibly the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, “is a product by-and-large of Washington."
And Walker has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal with this provocative headline: “Scott Walker: How to Win the Obama-Walker Voters.” He writes, “In the wake of the 2012 elections, Republicans are being warned once again that they need to compromise their principles to win at the ballot box. That the only way to win the center is to move to the center. If this were true, Barack Obama would not be president today—and I would not be governor of Wisconsin.”
NBC's Andrew Rafferty: "Hillary Clinton said she is confident there will be a "course correction" to fix the ongoing gridlock in Washington but it is up to voters to reject politicians who are unwilling to compromise. "Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, it's important not to vote for people who proudly say they will never compromise," said Clinton, speaking at the Greenbuild International Conference in Philadelphia on Thursday."
Charlie Cook: "Wave elections are very real, but they are very party-specific. A large partisan wave is highly unlikely in 2014, because voters hate Democrats in Congress while simultaneously despising Republicans. To vote against one party, people have to vote for another in very large numbers, which at this point seems unlikely. The government shutdown and related antics on the GOP side are offset by the disastrous launch of the Obamacare website and underlying public skepticism about the law. So, take all of the numbers we're seeing with a grain of salt; they aren't likely to amount to much more than that."
Roll Call: "The League of Conservation Voters has launched a $1 million ad campaign across five states, including two battleground House districts and two competitive Senate races. The group, which backs candidates who support its environmental policy goals, is running television ads praising Sens. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., as well as Reps. Pete Gallego, D-Texas, and Scott Peters, D-Calif., “for protecting public health and promoting clean energy jobs.”
FLORIDA: The Daily Rundown's Jessica Taylor: "Want to know how Obamacare is likely to affect the 2014 midterms? An upcoming Florida special election may provide the best glimpse. The contest to replace the late Republican Rep. Bill Young is set for March 11 – just days before the enrollment deadline for the individual health care exchanges."
USA Today: "Rep. Trey Radel's decision to seek treatment after pleading guilty to a cocaine possession charge may be only the beginning of his troubles. The Florida Republican's political future remains in doubt, as calls for Radel to resign grow louder. At the same time, he could face punishment from his House colleagues if the ethics committee takes action."
Politico reports that "the Florida Republican is calling in high-priced reinforcements. Radel is spending money out of his own pocket to hire Ron Bonjean and Brian Walsh — longtime Republican crisis communication and political hands — to help maintain his operation. His press secretary recently left for another job — a departure they say is unrelated to the cocaine bust. Far from resigning, Radel, 37, already sounds like a man opening a new chapter of his political career: the reformed survivor."
Roll Call's Abby Livingston runs down the "several potential primary challengers have emerged in Florida’s 19th District — which includes Cape Coral, Fort Myers and Naples — in the last couple days."