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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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November 21st, 2013
05:31 PM ET

Democratic senator on rule change: Obama entitled to have his team in place

(CNN) - The Senate on Thursday voted to invoke the so-called nuclear option out of frustration over Republicans who have been blocking President Barack Obama's nominees.

The controversial move is a rules change that could make a partisan environment even more divisive, because it takes away the Senate minority's right to filibuster.

"Really, this is going to be good for the country. We are going to be able to let the president have his team in place," said Democratic Sen. Tom Udall, of New Mexico. "Any president, Democrat or Republican, is entitled to have their team in place."

But Republicans call Thursday's rule change hypocritical, saying Democrats were against the nuclear option back in 2005.

"The reality is, it has been an unprecedented level of obstruction," said Udall, who is one of 33 Democratic senators who have never served in the minority.

"In 2005, they reached a compromise. They put judges on the court. Here, we have just hit a wall. There was no compromise," said Udall.

Udall said the rule change "is returning to the Constitution. The Constitution has super majorities in five places, not on advice and consent. That's what we're supposed to do on judges, that's what we're supposed to do on executive nominees."

The new Democratic senators that have never been in the minority "are primarily driving this issue," Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said Thursday, warning they "will pay a very, very heavy price for it."

"Nothing happens in the Senate unless every senator signs on," Udall said. "We had some very senior senators say, you know, enough is enough."

Philosophically, Udall said he does not believe the Senate's job is to rubber-stamp the administration's wishes.

"Our role is is to step out there, advise and consent, and if we don't believe the person's qualified, if there's some real serious problem, vote against them," said Udall.

"The issue really is advice and consent, not with super majorities. Right now we have the tyranny of the minority. That's what we've taken care of," said Udall.

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