The move came after dozens of nominees by President Barack Obama had been denied an up-and-down vote while Republicans filibustered. Senate Democrats, and President Barack Obama, said the Senate Republicans were setting too high a standard by all-but requiring 60 votes for any nominees to go forward.
Sixty votes is the amount needed to invoke cloture and end debate on action in the Senate, whether it be a bill or a nominee.
Since entering the U.S. Senate in 2009, Sen. Tom Udall has been advocating a need to change the rules and eliminate the filibuster.
“Today’s vote to change the rules is a victory for all Americans who want to end obstruction and return to a government that works for them. Americans sent us here to get things done, but in recent years, the minority has filibustered again and again – not to slow action out of substantive concerns, but for political gain,” Udall said in a statement following the vote. “Any President — Democrat or Republican — should be able to make their necessary appointments.”
The straw that broke the camel’s back was the refusal by Republicans to consider any nominees for the powerful DC Circuit Court. In the last month, three nominees were rejected by the Senate despite a majority supporting their nomination.
“This change finally returns the Senate to the majority rule standard that is required by the Constitution when it comes to executive branch and judicial nominees,” Udall said. “With this change, if those nominees are qualified, they get an up or down vote in the Senate. If a majority is opposed, they can reject a nominee. But a minority shouldn’t be able to delay them indefinitely. That is how our democracy is intended to work.”
Sen. Martin Heinrich, who also voted for the rules change, said in a statement that “Opposition and obstructionism rather than accountability and deliberation have become far too common in Washington.”
“Today, we put an end to Senate Republicans repeatedly blocking qualified judicial and public service nominees from receiving an up or down vote,” Heinrich said. “But there is still much more we can do to govern effectively and pass important legislation that would make a difference in the lives of the people of New Mexico.”
Heinrich also praised Udall for his work on reforming the filibuster.
Republicans have said the move to not allowing filibuster on nominees by the president is a power grab by Democrats.
Added quotes from Heinrich.