Something big happened in the Senate today: A majority of senators voted to change the way the filibuster works. (You can read more about what a filibuster does here.)
Under today's rule change, all executive branch and judicial nominees — except to the Supreme Court — can be confirmed with a simple up-or-down vote rather than the previously required 60-vote supermajority.
Speaking from the White House Press Briefing Room today, the President supported the change and provided context for why it's especially pertinent right now:
All too often, we've seen a single senator or a handful of senators choose to abuse arcane procedural tactics to unilaterally block bipartisan compromises, or to prevent well-qualified, patriotic Americans from filling critical positions of public service in our system of government.
Now, at a time when millions of American have desperately searched for work, repeated abuse of these tactics have blocked legislation that might create jobs. They've defeated actions that would help women fighting for equal pay. They've prevented more progress than we would have liked for striving young immigrants trying to earn their citizenship. Or it's blocked efforts to end tax breaks for companies that are shipping jobs overseas. They've even been used to block common-sense and widely supported steps to protect more Americans from gun violence, even as families of victims sat in the Senate chamber and watched. And they've prevented far too many talented Americans from serving their country at a time when their country needs their talents the most.
As the President went on to note, in the six decades before he took office, only 20 presidential nominees to executive positions had to overcome filibusters. "But in just under five years since I took office, nearly 30 nominees have been treated this way," the President said.