Senate Democrats on Thursday approved an historic change in the rules of the upper house of Congress so that a 60-vote majority is no longer needed to confirm the nominations of judges and top officials proposed by the White House.

With 52 votes in favor and 48 against - three of the latter being Democrats - the Senate's Democratic majority approved the proposal to do away with the traditional unwritten rule that had allowed the Republican minority to systematically delay the approval of nominations made by President Barack Obama.

The so-called "nuclear option" will allow the Senate to approve such appointments with a simple majority of 51 votes - which the Democrats currently possess - thus enabling them to prevent filibustering maneuvers by the opposition and move forward with pending nominations, except for justices proposed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid thus made good on his threat to resort to the "nuclear option" if the pending nominations of three judges were not unblocked.

Reid noted that the U.S. public is very frustrated with congressional inaction and said that Republican filibustering tactics had transformed the Senate into a body that doesn't function properly.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Republican minority, Sen. Mitch McConnell, criticized Reid for distracting the public by creating false battles.

Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that the White House supports Reid in his move to change the Senate rules once and for all. EFE