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Casey, Toomey expect to maintain cooperation in midst of filibuster upheaval

| Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., left, and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., shake hands at the conclusion of a news conference at Urban Outfitters' offices in 2011 in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania's U.S. senators won't let a little thing like a disagreement over the filibuster break up their working relationship.

The Senate made history Thursday when it struck down filibuster rules for most presidential nominations, changing nearly 225 years of precedent to enable rapid confirmation of most nominees and selections for the federal judiciary without a 60-vote hurdle.

Democrat Bob Casey of Scranton and Republican Pat Toomey of Lehigh Valley told the Tribune-Review their opposite opinions would not bruise their ability to work together on executive and judicial nominees.

Casey said he and Toomey “have developed a successful bipartisan process to recommend highly qualified individuals to the White House,” and those candidates were confirmed “by strong majorities in the Senate.”

“Pennsylvanians expect and deserve to have two senators who work together to place highly capable jurists on the bench, who are fair and uphold high ethical standards,” he said.

Toomey said their working relationship will transcend the rule change. Since 2011, Toomey supported Obama's three judicial nominees; two are Western Pennsylvanians and filling the vacancies was overdue, he said at the time.

The rule change trims the votes needed to 51 for Senate approval of nominees against unanimous Republican opposition. The vote split mostly along party lines; 52 Democrats and independents supported weakening filibuster power.

West Virginia's Sen. Joe Manchin was one of three Democrats who opposed the change.

Manchin offered a compromise to the White House to avoid the change. He said the change “simply went too far” and that the filibuster is a vital protection of the minority's view — and exactly why the framers of the Constitution made the Senate the “cooling saucer.”

“We must always be mindful of our responsibility to preserve this institution's special purpose,” he said.

Salena Zito is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at szito@tribweb.com.

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