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Senate Democrats Discuss How To Counter GOP Nominee Obstruction (UPDATE)

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SENATE DEMOCRATS NOMINEES
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pauses during a Capitol Hill news conference on March 5, 2013, following a Democratic strategy session. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) | AP

The Senate's Democratic leaders are discussing how to counter Republican obstruction of President Barack Obama's judicial and Cabinet nominees, Talking Points Memo reported Wednesday. The story indicated that Democrats had not yet laid out a course of action.

A senior Democratic aide confirmed the discussions to The Huffington Post. Two Senate Democratic sources also told HuffPost that in a meeting with Democratic senators Tuesday, Obama complained about the slow pace of nominations and suggested that the rules be changed.

Republicans sustained an unprecedented filibuster against Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel on Feb. 14, although he was confirmed by a 58-40 margin on Feb. 26. They are now filibustering the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, often described as the second most important court in the nation. The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin reported that Halligan enjoys support from members of both parties, but a single brief she wrote for then-New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) -- arguing that gun manufacturers were liable for some violence in New York -- has earned her opposition.

Earlier this year, Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reached a deal to reform the filibuster that fell far short of what progressive senators had hoped for. The deal reduced the debate time following a cloture vote from 30 hours to four, but did not change the 60-vote threshold to invoke cloture.

The talking filibuster launched by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) this month against the nomination of CIA Director John Brennan over Obama's drone policy was indeed an anomaly -- not seen since 2010 -- with senators holding the floor for 13 hours. Most filibusters are the less dramatic type that Halligan has endured: Her nomination was held up again on March 6, when 41 senators voted against cloture and 51 voted in favor.

Ryan Grim contributed reporting.

This story has been updated with information about President Obama's comments.

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