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'Nuclear Option' In Play As Senators Meet In Secret

The U.S. Capitol dome.
Alex Wong
Getty Images

(Most recent update: 9:40 p.m ET.)

The microphones are ready. The cameras are in position. The reporters are poised.

As The Associated Press says, with "a showdown looming," Republicans and Democrats are meeting Monday evening to see if they can reach a compromise over stalled White House nominations. If they can't, the Democratic leader of the Senate has threatened to change the chamber's rules to make it much harder for the minority party to filibuster.

It's a rare closed-door session to which all 100 senators were invited, and according to C-SPAN all but two of the lawmakers are in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber for the session.

Word about what has or has not been agreed to is expected at any moment. We'll update as the news emerges.

As The Hill says, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., "has threatened to use the 'nuclear option' — changing the Senate rules to allow presidential nominations to proceed with a simple-majority vote instead of a 60-vote super-majority — in order to thwart Republican obstruction on seven of President Obama's cabinet nominees."

Earlier on Monday, according to Politico, Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., couldn't reach an agreement on their own.

Over at the It's All Politics blog, NPR's Frank James looks at the "limited options" Reid has.


9:40 p.m. ET. Meeting Adjourns But Discussion Continues:

Moments ago, Texas Sen. John Cornyn tweeted that the bipartisan meeting had ended:

Democratic and Republican leaders promised to continue negotiating, but Majority Leader Harry Reid said the first test vote was still scheduled for Tuesday morning.

9:10 p.m. ET. Deal Possible, Sen. Rockefeller Says:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., just emerged from the chamber. According to The New York Times' Jonathan Weisman, "Rockefeller says he thinks there will be a deal before the 10 am Cordray vote. 'There's no deal but there's a much better understanding.' "

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.