With elections looming, Democrats fear contentious Senate votes so little gets done

The Associated Press

FILE -This June 24, 2014, file photo shows Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada on his way to speak to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. After changing Senate rules to speed President Barack Obama's nominees through the Senate, Reid has started demanding 60-vote majorities for virtually everything else, most recently to deny Republican leader Mitch McConnell a chance to block rules limiting carbon emissions. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

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By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A fear of voting has gripped Democratic leaders in the Senate, slowing the chamber's modest productivity this election season to a near halt.

With Senate control at risk in November, leaders are going to remarkable lengths to protect endangered Democrats from casting tough votes and to deny Republicans legislative victories during the campaign. Even bipartisan legislation to boost energy efficiency, manufacturing, sportsmen's rights and more could be scuttled.

The Senate's masters of process are finding a variety of ways to shut down debate.

For one, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid now is requiring an elusive 60-vote supermajority to deal with amendments to spending bills, instead of the usual simple majority. That step that makes it much more difficult to put politically sensitive matters into contention.

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