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Rules Changes Dominate Senate Luncheon Discussions

Updated: 2:18 p.m.

Senate leaders on Tuesday took to their respective caucuses to pitch a deal that would restrict the use of secret holds and allow some nominees to go through unchallenged by the minority party. 

Under the agreement, hatched by Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Democratic Policy and Communications Center Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Democrats would no longer use procedural tactics to block GOP amendments to bills on the floor. Instead, Republicans and Democrats would evenly split the number of amendments that could be offered to bills, according to Senate aides familiar with the deal. 

Republicans have complained that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has all but frozen them out of the amendment process by filing a multitude of Democratic measures on bills — a process known as filling the amendment tree. 

Democrats have accused Republicans of abusing procedural tactics to slow the floor and score political points.

Speaking before the Senate’s party lunches, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) did not indicate that the deal would dissuade the group of junior Democratic Members who want to alter Senate filibuster rules and make changes on other provisions that the minority has used to slow the debate.

While tacitly acknowledging that some of the more dramatic filibuster reforms may not have the support necessary to change the rules, Udall indicated that there is support for working around the edges. 

When asked whether his push for a more bipartisan seating arrangement at the State of the Union address was an extension of the filibuster reforms he has advocated, Udall said, “Yes.”

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