Senate leaders agreed Thursday to sharply cut the number of positions requiring Senate confirmation, eliminate secret “holds” on legislation and take other steps to streamline the chamber’s rules, in response to criticism that they too often lead to stalemate.
But the move also marked the end, at least for now, of efforts to significantly weaken the most famous feature of Senate rules—the filibuster, under which senators can block or delay legislation by talking indefinitely unless 60 colleagues vote to shut off debate.
The agreement continued a recent, modest trend toward bipartisan cooperation. It capped two years of complaints from Democrats about GOP delaying tactics and from Republicans about being refused the right to offer amendments.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) is not happy about this development. “This rule will make it easier for Harry Reid to pass budget-busting bills in secret, which is exactly opposite of what the American people want,” he says in a statement. “The problem with the Senate today is not that it passes too little legislation, it’s that it passes too much.” For more about DeMint’s take on the rules, check out this floor address from last year:
More about the opposition to the rules change here and here.