Landmark Senate Vote Limits Filibusters

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from The New York Times,

The Senate voted on Thursday to eliminate the use of the filibuster against most presidential nominees, a move that will break the Republican blockade of President Obama’s picks to cabinet posts and the federal judiciary. The change is the most fundamental shift in the way the Senate functions in more than a generation.

The vote was one that members of both parties had threatened for the better part of a decade, but had always stopped short of carrying out. This time, with little left of the bipartisan spirit that helped seal compromises on filibuster rule changes in the past, there was no last-minute deal to be struck.

The vote was 52 to 48.

Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, set the change in motion on Thursday with a series of procedural steps.

“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.

On that, but little else, Republicans agreed. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said the changes marked a “devastating” breach of Senate procedure.

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

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