Just a few minutes after the Senate failed for a third time in as many days to reach the 60-votes needed to approve a cloture motion on the financial reform bill (failing 56-42), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rose to his feet and asked the chamber’s presiding officer:

“Mr President, I now ask unanimous consent the motion to proceed to S 3217 be agreed to.”

After the president officer asked for objections, and heard none, he replied “Without objection, it is so ordered,” according to the Congressional Record.

And with that the Senate decided to commence debate on the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. No roll call, no vote on the record, no 60th vote to cut off debate, just an absence of naysayers.

In effect, the bill moves forward by a lopsided margin of 98-0 as dissent melted away, for the moment.