BRADENTON – On Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted 52-48 to eliminate the ability to use the filibuster against most presidential nominees. The move will end the GOP blockade of the President's appointments to cabinet posts and the federal judiciary.
The change is a fundamental shift in Senate rules brought about by bipartisan frustration over what was at one time a rare procedural tactic, but went on to become a common tool of obstruction used by both parties over the last decade.
The issue came to a head in recent weeks, as Republicans repeatedly filibustered President Obama’s selections for the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit.
The Senate has voted on three nominees to the court in just the past month and Republican Senators blocked all of them, saying they would allow the President no more appointments to that court in his remaining two-plus years.
The tactic had effectively required a party to reach a 60-vote super-majority in order to approve high-level presidential appointments, literally grinding some posts to a standstill. The appeals court had only eight full-time judges on its bench of 11 seats.
The changes to the filibuster procedure do not affect Supreme Court nominees, in which case the filibuster can still be invoked.