Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell are close to a deal to tweak the filibuster, in an agreement that will likely disappoint proponents of a major overhaul, but save Reid the hand-wringing that would come if he used the so-called "nuclear option" to reform the rules without GOP cooperation. Under the deal, the minority could no longer require 60 votes just to get a vote to the floor, the New York Times reports. In exchange, Democrats would allow Republicans to propose two amendments on all legislation.
Reid also wants to drop the practice of extending debate for 30 hours after a filibuster and to speed up votes on presidential nominees, Politico reports. But the deal almost certainly won't bring back the "talking filibuster," which would force legislators to actually hold forth Jimmy Stewart-style to delay legislation—indeed, senators won't even have to be present to block a vote. And Democrats will still need 60 votes to actually pass bills. But some are optimistic nonetheless. "I think this would be a real boost towards ending the gridlock which has bedeviled us," says Carl Levin.