Senate Adopts New Rules on Filibusters
Proposal Reduces Vote Total to 51 From 60 on Most Presidential Nominees
Janet Hook And Kristina Peterson
Updated Nov. 21, 2013 1:01 p.m. ET
A bitterly divided Senate voted Thursday to ease the confirmation process for most presidential nominees, a momentous and potentially risky step that limits the ability of Republicans to block President Barack Obama’s choices for executive-branch and most judicial posts.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) engineered the rules change, over Republican objections, with a complicated parliamentary maneuver that ended up placing new curbs on the use of the filibuster—a move so controversial that it is often called the “nuclear option.”
“The American people believe Congress is broken. The American people believe the Senate is broken…It’s time to change the Senate before this institution becomes obsolete,” Mr. Reid said.
The key vote was 52-48, with all but three Democrats voting for the change and all Republicans opposed. Democratic Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Joe Manchin of West Virginia broke from their party and voted against changing the rules.