Senate Nears Filibuster Deal, Might Become Slightly Less Ineffective

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 08: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) pauses during a news briefing after a Democratic Caucus meeting April 8, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. More than half of Senate Democrats attended the news conference to show solidarity on the budget negotiations with the Republicans. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) Photo: Alex Wong/2011 Getty Images

For years, the filibuster was only used on rare occasions, but in recent years it's become a routine procedure that prevents the Senate from getting anything done. Senate leaders have been trying to find a way to end the gridlock, and on Thursday they're expected to announce a bipartisan deal that involves doing away with the tactic that forces the majority party to get 60 votes to bring a bill to the floor, which can kill a bill before it's debated. However, the New York Times notes that senators could still block a bill if they aren't present and "would still have the opportunity to filibuster a final vote on any legislation, thwarting its passage without 60 votes," so it doesn't sound like legislation will be flying through the chamber.