The dream of filibuster reform is over — for now. Today leaders of the Senate reached a deal that addresses many aspects of the filibuster maneuver — whereby senators often delay and kill bills they dislike — without reforming the filibuster itself. With the deal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has withdrawn his threat to trigger the "nuclear option," with which he would have risked the rebuke of his opponent, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and further turmoil in the perennially logjammed Senate. Instead, Reid settled on a list of procedural reforms, such as requiring those who wish to mount a filibuster to actually show up on the Senate floor, and limiting the abuse of quorum calls, which can be used to delay a bill's movement.
Still, the winner of today's agreement, if there is one, is unclear. According to the liberal site Talking Points Memo, Reid won many of the reforms that he was seeking — which should placate some of his frustrations with the Senate body — but it's difficult to say whether a bunch of small fixes will add up to a more functional Senate. McConnell extracted a few concessions — including the ability of his party to add two amendments to any bill — but otherwise played defense to Reid.
Who lost, though — well, that's much clearer. The deal is a disappointment to vocals groups like Fix the Senate Now, which issued a statement saying the proposal "avoids measures that would actually raise the costs of Senate obstruction" and that "the incremental "reforms" in the agreement do not go nearly far enough to deliver meaningful change." And it's a letdown to Democrats hoping that Reid would accomplish what no one before him had. One aide told Talking Points Memo that, even with the bill's changes, "the Senate will operate much the same way as it did yesterday."