In a 52 to 48 vote Thursday, the United States Senate approved weakening filibusters and made it more difficult for members of the GOP to block confirmations of presidential nominees for judges and other posts.
The vote followed angry accusations and a series of procedural moves by leaders of both parties. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claims it was Republican gridlock that kept the Senate from functioning properly. In contrast, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claims the move is a Democratic strategy to distract voters from issues with the Affordable Health Care Act.
The vote will allow the Senate to approve three of President Barack Obama's nominees for a top federal court, but it's not clear how long it will take those people to get through final procedural steps.
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