House Republicans, who control their chamber by 32 seats, voted 40 times to rescind or restrict that law. In the Senate, where Republicans have a 10-seat disadvantage, they increasingly turned to the filibuster to block the president's agenda as much as possible.
Obama told reporters that, in the 60 years before he took office, "only 20 presidential nominees to executive positions had to overcome filibusters. In just under five years since I took office, nearly 30 nominees have been treated this way."
Now people ask if the Senate rules change will make things better for the government and nation, or worse. Reid said it will help the country and the Senate. Others disagree, saying the quarrels will grow even hotter.
Thursday's actions did not prevent the minority party from using filibusters to block legislation or Supreme Court nominees. Sooner or later, some activists in both parties say, those barriers will fall, too.
"It is just a matter of time -- perhaps as soon as the next Congress -- before one party or the other eliminates the filibuster for legislation, not just judicial appointments," said John Ullyot, a GOP Senate aide during the 2005 filibuster debates. "The genie is out of the bottle," he said, "and there's no putting it back in."
Some Republicans say they look forward to the day when a GOP president can use a simple Senate majority to revoke Obama's 2010 health-care overhaul.
In the meantime, advocates of bipartisanship fear that the rules change will snuff out any remaining hope of progress in Congress.
Former Sen. George Voinovich, an Ohio Republican who often worked with Democrats, said Republicans' justified anger makes it highly unlikely House-Senate budget negotiators will reach even a modest accord to curb deficits and redirect spending cuts to make them less damaging.
"We're not going to get anything," said Voinovich, who has been urging the two-party negotiators to make courageous decisions. "The public is unbelievably upset" at the federal government, he said, and fallout from the filibuster rules change will make matters worse.
Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, now the Senate's longest-serving member, said he resisted changing filibuster rules for years, even when fellow Democrats complained. "Yet over the past five years," Leahy said in a floor speech Thursday, Senate Republicans resorted to obstructionism that "crossed the line from use of the Senate rules to abuse of the rules."
The filibuster rules change will bring the Senate somewhat closer to the House, where the minority party has few powers. In many ways, however, the Senate and the nation have been growing more partisan for years as the realignment of American politics drives moderates from both parties.
The expanding Senate obstructionism, Obama said "is not what our founders envisioned.
"A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to refight the results of an election, is not normal," the president said. For future generations' sake, he said, "we can't let it become normal."
Given the level of anger over the rules change, it might be too late.