Harry Reid says senators close to deal on averting nuclear option

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON — It looks like Harry Reid might not go nuclear.

The Democratic Senate majority leader hinted during remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday that Republicans and Democrats are on the cusp of making a deal that would prevent him from invoking the “nuclear option” and pushing through changes to the Senate’s rules limiting filibuster.

“I think we see a way forward that will be good for everybody,” Reid said.

“I think it will be something that is good for the Senate,” the Democrat added. “It is a compromise.”

His remarks come after senators from both parties spent nearly four hours on Monday night in a rare closed-door meeting inside the Old Senate Chamber of the Capitol to discuss Reid’s threats to stop Republicans from being able to filibuster President Obama’s executive nominees.

“I will say that I hope that everyone learned a lesson last night,” Reid said. “It sure helps to sit down and talk to each other.”

Upset over several Obama nominations that have been held up by Republicans, Reid has vowed to change the Senate rules to prevent future Republican filibustering. Under those changes, Senate rules would only require 51 votes to end a filibuster on presidential nominees, instead of the current 60 required votes.

That would mean the 42 Republicans in the Senate would have no ability to stop the confirmation of presidential nominees they find unacceptable. Obama could nominate virtually anyone despite Republican opposition if the 54 senators who vote with the Democrats supported his pick.

But on Tuesday, Reid said he was “very confident” a deal will be struck Tuesday to avoid the “nuclear option,” saying lawmakers are still working out the details.

“We have a few little Is to dot and Ts to cross,” Reid said, explaining that he still needs to speak with Vice President Joe Biden and speak with the Democratic Senate leadership.

“We’ll explain in more detail the direction that we’re headed,” Reid said. “I think everyone will be happy.”

During his remarks Tuesday, he singled out one Republican lawmaker for playing a pivotal role in the negotiations.

“John McCain is the reason we’re at the point we are,” he said of the Arizona senator.

On the Senate floor, McCain described the recent discussions as “productive.”

“I’d like to thank everybody on both sides of the aisle who have engaged in this debate and this discussion,” he said.

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