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.
Former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., candidate for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, holds his hand over his heart during the singing of the national anthem as he waits to take the stage for his town hall campaign rally with Sen. John McCain at the Pinkerton Academy in Derry, N.H., on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.