November 22, 2013 – U.S. Senate Alters Its Filibuster Rules

On this date the U.S. Senate approved, on a 52 to 48 vote, a fundamental alteration of its rules, ending the ability of the minority party to filibuster most presidential nominees, allowing a simple majority vote to be determinative. This change meant that the filibuster could no longer apply to judicial or executive-branch nominees but would still apply to bills and Supreme Court nominations.

The Democrats contended they were trying to resolve the gridlock that had been plaguing Congress, but Republicans said the Senate’s move represented an outrageous repudiation of the minority party’s right to influence policy.

However, as Gregory Koger, a University of Miami political scientist who researched the filibuster, said:

Over the last 50 years, we have added a new veto point in American politics. It used to be the House, the Senate and the president, and now it’s the House, the president, the Senate majority and the Senate minority. Now you need to get past four veto points to pass legislation. That’s a huge change of constitutional priorities. But it’s been done, almost unintentionally, through procedural strategies of party leaders.”

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