U.S. Senate Democrats made history Thursday by changing the rules that have made it possible for Republicans to block President Barack Obama's judicial and executive branch nominees.
Senators voted 52 to 48 in favor of changing the rules that have been part of the Senate for 200 years.
The new rules reduce from 60 to 51 the number of votes needed in the 100-member Senate to end the procedural roadblocks called filibusters.
The opposition party sometimes uses filibusters to block presidential nominees to executive and judicial branch jobs. Republicans have used this tactic against numerous Obama nominees.
The president thanked his fellow Democrats. He called Republican filibusters an arcane tactic that obstructed much of the nation's business from getting done.
Angry Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Democrats are using a power play. He warned them that some day, they will be the minority party.
The new rules apply only to filibusters against presidential nominees for government office, not the Supreme Court. They also so not apply to legislation.
Thursday's vote clears the way for Senate approval of three Obama picks for a top federal court. It is not clear how long it will take for those nominees to clear final procedural hurdles.