The Senate just changed the interpretation of one of its rules (Rule XXII) to reduce the number of votes necessary to invoke cloture and end certain filibusters from a supermajority down to a simple majority of 51 votes. This rule change, a precedent rather than an actual change in the language of the rule, supposedly makes it easier for the Democratic majority in the Senate to confirm the president’s nominees for the federal bench and for executive branch positions requiring Senate confirmation. Rule XXII was not changed in regard to bills before the Senate or for voting on nominees to the Supreme Court.
The Senate website has information on the history of cloture and the filibuster.
Senator Byrd’s name has come up frequently in the wake of the Senate’s action regarding Senate Rule XXII, citing his longstanding defense of minority rights and his earlier opposition to the so-called “Nuclear Option.”