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Changing Senate rules requires a two-thirds majority vote — a very high hurdle. But Reid has shown a willingness to use procedural steps to curb what he views as dilatory tactics. Last August, Reid used a variation of the “nuclear option” to change a procedural rule. The change barred Senators from using motions to suspend the rules to get around a prohibition against Senators offering nongermane amendments after cloture is invoked.
The proposal by Merkley and Udall ran into procedural hurdles that supporters had not anticipated, and Reid ultimately negotiated a narrower package of changes. Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also entered into a gentlemen’s agreement intended to reduce the number of filibusters on motions to proceed in exchange for the ability to offer at least some amendments.