A possible deal might seem like welcome news to Democrats frustrated by the lethargic pace of legislating in the Senate, but rules-reform advocates have become likewise exasperated with the state of their leadership's negotiations.
For starters, an informal deal is, by definition, unofficial. While aspects like ending secret holds would be incorporated into the rules, the reduction in the number of filibusters wouldn't. "The whole thing could blow up again in a couple months," said one operative who has lobbied the Senate on rules reform. "They are getting nothing."
Democrats, this operative added, would have been able to secure bigger, longer-lasting changes had they been willing to exercise what is known as the "constitutional option" -- the parliamentary maneuver that allows a simple majority of the chamber to set its rules at the onset of a new session.
But a top Democratic Senate aide, whose boss supports rules reform, said that as of Monday "there were definitely not 51 votes for the constitutional option." Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) hinted as much over the weekend.