Seeking a way to clear blocked nominees, Senate Democrats swept precedent aside Thursday and eliminated filibusters for most appointments by President Barack Obama and future chief executives.
The move now clears the way for three of Obama's blocked judicial nominees.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who orchestrated the change, called the 52-48 vote a blow to gridlock and said something needed to be done.
“In the history of the Republic, there have been 168 filibusters of executive and judicial nominations. Half of them have occurred during the Obama administration – during the last four and a half years,” he said.
But Republicans warned Democrats would regret their actions once they find themselves in the political minority.
“The solution to this problem is at the ballot box," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said. "We look forward to having a great election in 2014.”
Obama welcomed the shift, telling reporters at the White House that the "gears of government have got to work."
"Enough is enough," he said.
Over the summer, Reid had threatened to "go nuclear" and change the filibuster rules, but Republicans eventually hammered out a deal and approved several blocked executive nominations, including Richard Cordray as permanent director of the Consumer Financial Protection Board.
This time, Reid said, there was no deal on the horizon.