Maine Sen. Angus King joined Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Democrats Thursday to cast historic votes limiting the right of the minority to filibuster in the U.S. Senate.
King’s vote helped Democrats overcome Republican opposition to President Obama’s cabinet nominees and federal judicial appointments.
The final vote was 52 to 48, with Sen. Susan Collins voting with fellow Republicans and three Democrats in favor of protecting the filibuster.
King’s Senate office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Democrats were trying to break the filibuster rule in order to distract the public from the political problems belonging to the President’s seriously troubled health care law.
“You think this is in the best interest of the United State Senate and the American people?” asked McConnell, according to the New York Times. “I say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, you’ll regret this. And you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.”
The changes were approved by a simple majority through a procedural move known as the “nuclear” option.
As a result, Obama’s judicial picks and cabinet nominees can be confirmed with only a simple majority of senators.
Such confirmations have required a 60-vote supermajority for more than two centuries.
In 2005, Reid and several high-profile Democrats assailed President George W. Bush for considering the nuclear option.
“The right to extended debate is never more important than when one party controls congress and the white house,” said Sen. Reid. “In these cases, the filibuster serves as a check on power and preserves our limited government.”
“This nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power,” said then-Senator Joe Biden (D-Del.).
“I say to my friends on the Republican side: You may own the field right now, but you won’t own it forever,” he said. “And I pray God that when the Democrats take back control we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing.”
Maine Wire Reporter