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Washington • Utah's GOP Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee sit are outraged at the Senate change to filibuster rules that clears the way for swift approval of President Barack Obama's nominees.

Both Republicans sit on the Judiciary Committee and Hatch, a former chairman, said the 52-48 unilateral rule change by majority Democrats shows they have consolidated power more than "any majority has had in more than 200 years" and hurt the Senate in the process.

"They have in the most disingenuous way done long-term institutional damage for short-term political gain," Hatch said in a statement for the Senate record. "This majority wants everything to go their way, and will do anything to make that happen."

Lee called the vote a "partisan attack."

"The Senate protects the American people from authoritarian one-party rule by requiring at least some consensus to move anything through this body," he said. "The Democrats have just done great damage to this principle by putting politics and partisanship ahead of the interests of the American people."

At the White House, Obama applauded the vote. He said Republicans had used delaying tactics "as a reckless and relentless tool to grind all business to a halt."

"And that's not what our founders intended. And it's certainly not what our country needs right now," the president said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who launched the effort, accused Republicans of "unbelievable, unprecedented obstruction" of Obama's selections to fill court vacancies and other offices.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.