Senate Votes to Limit Filibusters

Facilitating the foremost change in Senate rules in decades, the Senate voted today to remove the use of the filibuster against the majority of presidential nominees. The 52 to 48 vote in the Senate this afternoon to change the rules was driven by the Republican obstructionism that has created a blockade of Obama’s nominees for the cabinet and the judiciary.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Members of the Senate have threatened to change the Sneate rules on the filibuster for nearly a decade. The filibuster is a manuever that holds up debate on isses and nominess and it has been used by Senate members on both sides of the aisle for decades. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, set the stage for the change in the rules today with the use of a series of Senatorial procedures.

The need for change is so, so very obvious. It is clearly visible,” Mr. Reid said as the Senate convened Thursday morning. “It is time to get the Senate working.”

After the vote, Mr. Reid said he would not gloat. “This is not a time for celebration,” he said.

Republican Senator John McCain, called the changes a ““devastating” breach of Senate procedure.”

“Now there are no rules in the United States Senate,” he said.

President Obama lauded the change in what “he called “an unprecedented pattern of obstruction” of his judicial and cabinet nominees by Republicans.”

“I realize that neither party has been blameless for these tactics. They developed over the years,” Mr. Obama told reporters at the White House. “But today’s pattern of obstruction, it just isn’t normal. It’s not what our founders envisioned. A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to refight the results of an election is not normal, and for the sake of future generations we can’t let it become normal.”

Democrats will “start approving the two remaining appeals court judges after the Senate returns from its Thanksgiving recess.”

The new Senate rule means that appointments of federal judge nominees and executive-office nominess can be advanced to confirmation by the “votes by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote supermajority that has long been required to end debate and proceed to an up-or-down majority vote to confirm or reject the nomination.”

The change does not apply to Supreme Court nominations. But the vote, mostly along party lines, dramatically alters the landscape for both Democratic and Republican presidents, especially if their own political party holds a majority of, but fewer than 60, Senate seats.

Harry Reid triggered the “so-called “nuclear option” by proposing a motion to reconsider the nomination of Patricia Millett, one of the judicial nominees whom Republicans recently blocked by a filibuster, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.”

Chris Cillizza noted today on the Washington Post, “The Senate is at Defcon-1 and about to change forever.”

Hail to the nuclear option, in my opinion. Long overdue…

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3 Responses to Senate Votes to Limit Filibusters

  1. India says:

    Ms. Leavy,
    You wrote that the “nuclear option” is “long overdue”. Will you keep the same attitude if/when Republicans take the Senate?
    Just curious.

  2. This is fantastic! Now that the Democrats have established the the filibuster can be changed whenever the majority wants, once the GOP takes back the Senate (now or at some point in the future), they can just change the rules with a majority vote, and then repeal whatever Democratic legislation they want- starting with Obamacare. Thank you for removing the check of 60 votes that was established when our nation was first founded- now the party is really on!

  3. A Conservative Teacher: I see your blog has managed to get you in trouble with the school district or the parents of the children you’ve slandered again, so you’ve taken it down again. Going to stick to sniping, or just taking it on the lam until the heat blows over?

    Certainly your unbroken record of hatred of your fellow Americans disqualifies you from decent society. And from any answer to your trolling.