Senate Votes On New Filibuster Rules

Washington, D.C.-- Today, Senate Democrats voted to end the ability of minority Republicans to use filibusters to block President Obama's judicial and executive nominations.

A few years ago, Democrats criticized Republicans for even considering the same tactic.

It's an historic change Democrats say will help fix a broken system, and Republicans argue it will make Washington gridlock worse.

Senate Democrats voted to lower the threshold to break a filibuster from 60 votes to 51 votes -- a simple majority. It strips the minority party's ability to block a President's nominees. It's called the "nuclear option" for good reason.

Just a few years ago, even Democratic Leader Harry Reid said he wouldn't do it.

GOP obstruction is unprecedented. To back that up, Democrats point to statistics from the non-partisan Congressional research service. In the history of the country, there have been 168 filibusters of Presidential nominees. About half of those -- 82 -- happened during the Obama administration.

Angry Republicans don't necessarily dispute Democrats statistics about nominees they have blocked. Instead, they point to how many judges they have confirmed (215), and rejected (5).

When it comes to the fight that Democrats called "the last straw", over vacancies in the D.C. Circuit, the Republican leader Senator Mitch McConnell argues that Democrats are manufacturing a crisis to distract from the Obamacare debacle.

Senator McConnell wouldn't say whether Republicans would adhere to these new rules if they win back the majority.

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