President Barack Obama said Thursday that he supports Senate Democrats’ dramatic action to change the chamber’s rules for presidential nominees, saying "enough is enough" when it comes to gridlock on Capitol Hill.
"The vote today, I think, is an indication that a majority of senators believe as I believe that enough is enough," Obama said at the White House. "The American people’s business is far too important to keep falling prey day after day to Washington politics."
Decrying the past "abuse of arcane procedural tactics" to block legislation and nominations, Obama conceded that neither party is blameless in creating gridlock on Capitol Hill.
"But today’s pattern of obstruction isn't normal," he added. "It’s not what our founders envisioned."
A former senator and onetime constitutional law professor, Obama said he values the Senate's directive to "advise and consent" but that lawmakers in the minority were manipulating the filibuster rules for solely political reasons.
"It’s no longer used in a responsible way to govern," he said. "It’s rather used as a reckless and relentless tool to grind all business to a halt. That's not what our founders intended and it’s certainly not what our country needs right now."
The Senate voted on Thursday to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for most presidential nominees, a dramatic change to Senate rules that overturned two centuries of the chamber’s precedent.
The change will apply to executive office and judicial nominees, except for those picked by the president for the Supreme Court.
Democrats argued that limiting filibusters was their only remaining option after Republicans blocked a series of judicial and executive branch nominees. The GOP called the move a ‘power grab’ intended to distract from problems with rollout of Obama’s signature health care law.
Three Democratic senators voted with all Republicans to oppose the change.
First published November 21 2013, 11:06 AM