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Government Nation

Senate votes to curb filibusters on many nominees

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. The Senate is nearing a potential showdown on curbing the power that the Republican minority has to block President Barack Obamaís nominations, as Democrats edge toward muscling a rewrite of filibuster rules through the chamber. Reid was expected to force a vote as soon as Thursday on requiring only 51 votes to end filibusters, or delaying tactics, against nominees for high-level judgeships and agency officials. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. The Senate is nearing a potential showdown on curbing the power that the Republican minority has to block President Barack Obamaís nominations, as Democrats edge toward muscling a rewrite of filibuster rules through the chamber. Reid was expected to force a vote as soon as Thursday on requiring only 51 votes to end filibusters, or delaying tactics, against nominees for high-level judgeships and agency officials. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON – In a victory for Democrats, the Senate has voted to weaken filibusters and make it harder for Republicans to block confirmation of the president's nominees for judges and other top posts.

The mostly party-line vote was 52-48. It came Thursday after a series of procedural moves and angry accusations from both parties' leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid complains that Republican gridlock has prevented the chamber from functioning.

But Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Democrats are using a power play to distract voters from the president's troubled health care law.

The vote clears the way for Senate approval of three Obama picks for a top federal court. But it is unclear how long it would take for those nominees to clear final procedural hurdles.

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