Obama hails filibuster changes
By Amie Parnes and Justin Sink - 11/21/13 02:25 PM EST
President Obama hailed the Senate’s move to gut the minority party’s filibuster powers, saying it would end obstruction in the upper chamber.
In an appearance at the White House, Obama argued the Senate GOP’s recent use of the filibuster was not normal and was never intended by the nation’s founders.
He said “enough is enough” and applauded Senate Democrats for changing the body’s rules to prevent a filibuster on nominations other than to the Supreme Court.
“I support the step that a majority of Senators took to change the way Washington does business,” Obama said. “I realize neither party has been blameless for these tactics ... But today's pattern of obstruction just isn't normal.”
The 52-48 vote was triggered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who invoked the “nuclear option” to change Senate rules on the filibuster with a majority vote.
The White House and Democrats have been frustrated that Republicans have blocked a string of administration nominations, including three nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Democrats said the rule change was necessary after unprecedented obstruction from the Republican minority, with White House aides noting that the GOP had blocked nearly as many nominees during the Obama presidency as through the rest of American history.
The White House has also repeatedly noted that the president's judicial nominees waited about twice as long, on average, as those offered by former President George W. Bush.
Republicans argued that Democrats used the same arguments to block appointees of President George W. Bush when they were in the Senate minority.
They also accused Democrats of trying to distract attention from the rollout of ObamaCare, which has led to falling poll numbers for Obama.
The move by Reid allowed the White House to change topic, after the administration has spent weeks on defense over the botched healthcare rollout.
Obama said the gridlock in Congress “has not served the cause of justice. In fact, it has undermined it.”
“Public service is not a game,” he said. “It's a privilege.”