Senate Democrats limit use of filibuster

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

US Capitol
The US Capitol, where Congress meets.

Senate Democrats, frustrated with Republicans blocking approval of President Barack Obama’s nominees to courts and other government offices, changed the rules on filibusters (a method of delaying votes on an issue by debating it further). Normally, 60 votes out of the 100 Senators are needed to overcome a filibuster, but since there’s only 55 Senate Democrats, they can’t move forward on Obama’s nominations.

The Republicans use filibustering in a way that Obama describes as truly historic in its overuse. In the six decades before he became president in 2009, only 20 nominees had to move past filibustering, whereas during Obama’s presidency, he says “nearly 30 nominees have been treated this way.” Even if the Senate can move more quickly now on issues, the Republicans control the House of Representatives, and so they’ll still have to end up working together on issues.

Obama offered a brief statement at the White House explaining, “Over the past five years we’ve seen an unprecedented pattern of obstruction in Congress that’s prevented too much of the American people’s business from getting done.”

However, critics of the rule change says it’s a dangerous move that might lead to “mob rule” by making it too easy for a simple 51-vote majority to silence the minority. Basically, the 49 who don’t vote for it have no say in the matter, which means a single party could completely dominate the Senate and ignore the other side completely.

Featured image courtesy of Senate Democrats on Flickr. Image of US Capitol courtesy of US Capitol on Flickr.