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.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.