The top Democrat in the U.S. Senate Tuesday indicated a deal may be close to
avert a showdown vote on the future of the procedural filibuster.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said a possible agreement for votes on stalled White House nominees could stop the Democrats from using the "nuclear option" -- a vote to change Senate rules to limit use of the filibuster.
"We may have a way forward on this," Reid said on the floor after a 3 1/2-hour meeting of senators."I feel fairly confident." Reid said while details have not been worked out, and that probably everyone would not be satisfied with the possible agreement, the emerging bargain was "not a bad deal."
Roll Call said the deal with Republicans apparently would let the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau be put to a test vote Tuesday.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reportedly was attempting to line up six Republican votes on Obama administration nominees to the National Relations Board, Roll Call said.
"We are going to move forward with the Cordray nomination," McCain said.
Reid said he would discuss the possible agreement with Vice Presdient Joe Biden and other Democratic leaders, The Hill reported.
Earlier, senators emerging from a rare bipartisan, closed-door caucus meeting in the richly decorated but rarely used Old Senate Chamber Monday night said no deal was struck during the session.
Some of the 98 senators who attended said they were confident an agreement could be reached Tuesday to defuse the tense partisan standoff.
At issue is the filibuster, an obstructive tactic used by the minority party to prevent a measure from being brought to a vote. Filibustering senators are allowed to speak for as long as they wish on any topic they choose.
A filibuster can be stopped when 60 senators vote to end debate and bring the filibustered matter to a vote.
Reid has said if Republicans try to filibuster the controversial nominations Tuesday, Democrats will change Senate procedures so only 51 senators are needed to end a filibuster on an executive-branch nomination.
The 60-vote threshold to end filibusters would remain for judicial nominees and legislation.
Democrats and allied independent senators hold 54 seats.
Changing the Senate rules would also require 51 votes.
"There's no deal, but there's a much better understanding," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., one of his party's most senior senators.
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