WASHINGTON -- President Obama said Thursday he supported a move by Senate Democrats to stop the use of the filibuster to block presidential appointments, arguing that Republicans had used the Senate’s rules to “gum up the works.”
Gridlock in the Senate has not “served the cause of justice,” Obama told reporters at the White House, but rather “has undermined it.”
“I realize that neither party has been blameless for these tactics. They've developed over years, and it seems as if they've continually escalated. But today's pattern of obstruction -- it just isn't normal,” Obama said.
“A majority of senators believe, as I believe, that enough is enough.”
Obama spoke shortly after the Senate’s Democratic majority moved to change the body’s rules to allow a simple majority of senators to end debate on nominations, except for appointments to the Supreme Court. The change ended the decades-old ability of a minority to block nominations by refusing to end debate.
Republican lawmakers said after the vote that Democrats were trying to change the conversation from the troubled healthcare reform startup to the issue of political gridlock. Democrats had broken the Senate’s rules to change the rules, Republican senators added. Democrats said they had acted appropriately because the Constitution allows the Senate to change its rules at any time.
Obama said the decision to change the rules made sense because the filibuster strategy wasn’t being used based “on substance, on qualifications.”
“It was simply because they opposed the policies that the American people voted for in the last election,” Obama said.
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