(CNN) — The Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate have agreed on language reforming filibusters, and after presenting the proposal to their respective caucuses Thursday afternoon the measures appear poised for passage.
Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell proposed a list of reforms that would curb the use of filibusters and streamline other procedures in order to speed up floor action. The measures would require the support of each party’s caucus, and will be subject to a series of floor votes, which could happen later Thursday.
Senate Democrats heard about the proposal from Reid at a caucus meeting Thursday, and multiple Democratic senators said its appeared to garner strong support. Senate Republican leaders circulated details of the proposal to their members, and a GOP aide said there have been no major issues raised by GOP senators to this point.
A filibuster is a tactic used in the Senate to delay or prevent a vote on legislation. Reid and McConnell’s proposal, according to one Senate aide, offers a compromise that would reduce the number of filibusters while ensuring the minority party gets votes on some amendments.
The proposal allows for two paths that could be used to begin debate on legislation, avoiding filibusters designed to prevent debate from actually taking place.
In the first path, Reid would allow two amendments from both parties to be presented, with the caveat that if an amendment isn’t relevant to the legislation at hand, it would be subject to a 60-vote threshold.
On measures where Reid and McConnell agree, a second path allows votes to overcome filibusters to be held the day after Reid files a procedural petition, instead of the two-day period currently in place. That change would disallow stalled votes on consensus legislation.
The proposal will also limit debate on some presidential nominations that require Senate approval.
Democrats have complained that the minority Republicans deliberately overuse the filibuster to block Democratic legislation. A group of junior Senate Democrats pushed Reid to pass broad reforms – including reinstating the requirement that senators conducting a filibuster speak continuously on the floor – by using a controversial method that would change Senate rules with just 51 votes instead of the 67 customarily required.
Republicans, furious they might be jammed, argued the filibuster is the only leverage they have to get roll call votes on amendments that otherwise are routinely denied them by the majority Democrats. They say if Democrats push the reforms through on 51 votes – what Republicans call the “nuclear option” – it will destroy relations between the two parties and lead to massive gridlock in the chamber.
A bipartisan group of senior members, led by Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Carl Levin, D-Michigan, offered the alternative compromise that became part of Reid and McConnell’s proposal.
“We are going to change the way we do business here,” Reid said Wednesday. “We can do it either the easy way or the hard way but it’s going to change.”
Reid insisted Tuesday he has the 51 votes needed to pass the reforms if Republicans don’t agree to a compromise.