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Mr. Merkley said the talking filibuster is more transparent because it forces a senator who attempts a filibuster to verbally defend his or her position on the Senate floor.

“You can still filibuster a bill (with his proposal), but if you choose to vote for additional debate, then as an individual you’re committing yourself to say there’s more to say,” Mr. Merkley said. “There should be dialogue before the American people.”

Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, who has proposed filibuster-reform legislation of his own, says he has “problems” with ramming though rule changes using the nuclear option, saying he prefers a negotiated compromise between party leaders.

“Something along those lines, if it can be worked out with the two leaders, I think gets us to where we want to go, which is ending that gridlock [and] does it in a way which does not go around the rules,” Mr. Levin said.