Just a few weeks ago, conventional opinion proclaimed that the U.S. Senate would be tied up in knots for two years, given the increased presence of Republicans in the chamber and determined efforts by Democrats not to cede ground.
Yet just last week, senators made a deal that could ease future gridlock. No one's envisioning a new Era of Good Feelings, but the agreement is a sort of cease-fire in the procedural warfare driven by unremitting partisanship that's been going on for years.
The steps include a ban on ``anonymous holds,'' which allow any senator to block a vote on a nomination without revealing their identity; doing away with the delaying tactic of requiring that an entire bill be read aloud on the floor; and reducing by about one-third the number of executive branch confirmations requiring Senate confirmation.
These are modest steps forward, but they represent a start in fixing the dysfunctional Senate. The filibuster lives on, ensuring that the majority can't run roughshod over the minority, but also raising the prospect that good legislation with majority support can't even get a floor vote.
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