The vice president stepped into the filibuster fray on Friday and threw his weight behind the nuclear option.
"There is no justification for allowing the blocking of nominees who are well qualified and broadly supported," Cheney told the Republican National Lawyers Association. "These nominations were held up strictly for partisan political reasons, in an astounding departure from historical precedent."
"Let me emphasize, the decision about how to proceed will be made by the Republican leadership in the Senate," he added. "But if the Senate majority decides to move forward and if the issue is presented to me in my elected office as president of the Senate and presiding officer, I will support bringing those nominations to the floor for an up or down vote."
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, fired off a statement in response, ripping into President Bush.
"BUSH GOES BACK ON WORD AND ENCOURAGES IRRESPONSIBLE ABUSE OF POWER
"In the span of three minutes, the vice president managed to reinvent 200 years of Senate history and ignore the fact that Congress has already approved 205 of this administration's nominees. Apparently, a 95 percent confirmation rate is not enough for this president. He wants it all, even if it means shattering the checks and balances in our government in order to put radical judges on the bench.
"Last week, I met with the president and was encouraged when he told me he would not become involved in Republican efforts to break the Senate rules. Now, it appears he was not being honest, and that the White House is encouraging this raw abuse of power.
"It is disturbing that Republicans have so little respect for the separation of powers established by our founding fathers. Based on his comments last week, I had hoped that the president was prepared to join Democrats in taking up the work of the American people, but it is clear this is no longer the case. If the White House and Congress insists on proceeding down this road, Democrats will do all we can to ensure that Congress pursues an agenda the American people can be proud of."
If that's a not-so-cryptic way of signaling all-out partisan warfare and congressional deadlock to come, we should all be beaming indeed.