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Washington Beat: Likely Senate Deal Would Defuse Filibuster Threat

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Senate leaders on Tuesday reached a last-minute, tentative deal to end a partisan stand-off and avoid changes to filibuster rules. Washington bureau reporter Geoff Bennett filed the following report for NY1.

On one side were Senate Republicans, who refused to move forward on a handful of President Barack Obama's nominations for key executive branch positions.

On the other were Senate Democrats, fed up with what they call continued obstruction by the GOP.

The partisan sparring provoked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to threaten to change the Senate's filibuster rules, eliminating the 60-vote threshold.

On Monday night, nearly all 100 senators met for almost four hours in a rare closed-door meeting to hash out a deal.

"The night is late, we've been no breaks, we've been going steady in there," Reid said at that time. "We've had a very good conversation. That conversation's going to continue tonight."

On Tuesday morning, word came of a tentative agreement.

Under the proposal, Republicans would confirm President Obama's seven executive branch nominees, but Democrats would have to replace two of the president's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.

"I think that Democrats, in many ways, at least in the short term, Democrats kind of come out ahead," said Sarah Binder of the Brookings Institution. "They get confirmation of seven nominees, three of which Republicans have gone on record in multiple ways of opposing."

Senator Reid said he plans to talk with his Democratic caucus and the Obama administration before the deal is finalized.

The White House on Tuesday said it stands behind Reid's plan.

"We simply hope that there's a resolution that allows for the confirmation of the president's nominees, which is why we supported all along Senator Reid in his approach to this matter," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

The proposed agreement doesn't resolve some of the deep partisan divisions in the Senate, and it will certainly be tested as confirmations move forward.

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