Senate leaders on Thursday announced a compromise aimed at speeding up the process of considering legislation and nominations, one that will be reflected in a colloquy between Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
First, Reid said, the understanding would put an end to secret holds on legislation, and he thanked Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) for their work on this issue.
Reid said an agreement has also been reached to free up presidential nominees. He said Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), both members of the leadership and the Rules Committee, reached an agreement that should let the Senate "get rid" of about a third of these nominations, which require the Senate's approval — thus making the nomination process easier going forward.
Reid also said these senators would work with Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) on legislation to implement this agreement.
Third, he said senators agreed to forgo the forced reading of amendments in order to slow down the legislative process.
"It's wrong, and it's got to stop," Reid said.
Finally, Reid indicated that the two parties reached a compromise on cloture votes for motions to proceed, and the ability of the minority to post amendments.
Reid said that he and McConnell reached an agreement under which the Republicans agreed not to force the reading of amendments, and Democrats agreed not to "fill the amendment tree," which would give Republicans the ability to seek amendments.
McConnell took to the Senate floor after Reid spoke and said some votes would take place later Thursday evening to reflect the agreement. He indicated that these votes, which are expected around 7 or 8 p.m., could result in the approval of some, but not all, resolutions on Senate rules.
"We'll have the votes later, which will give the Senate a chance to go on record about some changes that have been agreed to, and some that are being proposed that are not agreed to," McConnell said.
Reid said the agreement means there will be no vote to alter Senate rules by a simple majority vote. "As part of this compromise, we agreed that I won't force a majority vote to fundamentally change the Senate — that is, the so-called constitutional option — and he won't either," Reid said.
— Josiah Ryan contributed to this story.