The left is feeling emboldened by the decision of Senate Democrats to use the nuclear option to blow up filibuster rights on confirming presidential nominees.

Liberals have long clamored for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to play hardball with Republicans, and are excited to see their demands met.

Finally, they argue, the left will see courts and agencies filled with appointees who will protect President Obama’s key legislative achievements.

Democrats are also reigniting hopes for long-stalled initiatives.

“This is a big victory for the progressive agenda,” said one Senate Democratic aide. “The D.C. Circuit alone is likely to make a huge difference on a host of issues progressives care about, from women’s health to worker organizing rights to Wall Street reform and climate change.”

The Senate voted 52-48 on Thursday to change the filibuster rules so that only majority votes will be needed to move forward on procedural motions related to presidential nominations. The only exceptions are nominees to the Supreme Court.

The Senate vote was triggered by three stalled nominations to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second most powerful court in the country, but other nominations will also be bumped along.

At the top of the list is Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), the president’s nominee to take over the housing regulator monitoring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Watt is expected to lead a significant shakeup in the nation’s housing market once he takes office by pushing to assist struggling homeowners.

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