Senators Near Consensus On Filibuster Reform Alternative

A quick update on the substance, as opposed to the process, of filibuster reform in the Senate.

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) will pick up where he left off in pursuit of his filibuster reform proposals when the Senate reconvenes this week. But parallel negotiations between Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) on a more modest rules reform framework are ongoing. And there’s emerging consensus on three flanks.

New to that slate, according to a Senate aide, is a proposal to that would forbid “individual senators [from forcing] the reading of certain pieces of legislation, if they’ve been posted for certain periods of time.” There’s still no clarity on what categories of legislation would be exempted from this, or how long they’d have to be public.Alexander and Schumer are also nearing agreement on two other, longer-standing proposals.

First is a potential agreement on secret holds — though the aide insisted that the discussions involve “curtailing, not ending” that practice. Second is a change that would reduce the number of mid-level executive branch positions — currently about 1400 — that require the Senate’s consent.

How this all plays out is still up in the air. The Senate returns from a two-week break Tuesday and this issue will likely be a topic at weekly caucus policy lunches. Either or both parties could reject the framework, and even if there’s enough support to press ahead, Udall has been adamant about his desire to reset the precedent that the rules can be changed on a 51-vote basis at the outset of a new Congress.