A foolish consistency is said to be the hobgoblin of little minds, but what about a wise consistency? The Senate may soon be the testing ground for that question. Rather than re-invent the wheel, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer appear close to proposing the same power-sharing compromise that existed — briefly — the last time the Senate got split 50/50.

Essentially, it boils down to equality in committee seats and staffs, but the White House’s party in charge. That’s neither foolish or particularly wise, but it is realistic:

The top two Senate leaders are nearing a power-sharing agreement to hash out how the evenly divided chamber will operate, with Democrats in charge of setting the schedule but both parties likely to hold an equal number of seats on Senate committees, according to sources familiar with the talks.

The negotiations between Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have been built largely around how the Senate operated the last time the body was split 50-50: When George W. Bush initially became president in 2001. Final details are still being sorted out between the two leaders, sources said.

Similar to those rules, set in January 2001, Schumer and McConnell aides are discussing allowing bills and nominations to advance to the Senate floor even if they are tied during committee votes, something that could become common given that each party is expected to have the same number of seats on committees.

Democrats will hold the chairmanships of the committees, giving them power to set the agenda, and Schumer will be granted the title of majority leader since Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will cast tiebreaking votes on the floor.

The most remarkable aspect of this agreement isn’t the plan. It’s the fact that the two leaders appear to be directly negotiating with each other. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer have rarely engaged, a start difference between then-caucus leaders Trent Lott and Tom Daschle in 2001, who created the framework of this plan. At that point, interparty relations were getting more rancorous, but at least there was some sense of institutional comity left. The scorched-earth tactics that followed shortly thereafter has left the Senate a trench-warfare battleground.

So this could be seen as a step in the right direction. It might be a better bet to assume that the adoption of this plan hasn’t taken much negotiation. It’s as good as Republicans can hope to get. After all, they blew control of the Senate in the Georgia runoffs, thanks in part to a president who kept telling those voters that the system was rigged, and thanks in part to McConnell’s pennywise-pound-foolish refusal to give David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler a win on direct COVID-19 relief fund expansion. Elections have consequences, and one big consequence is that Schumer can win floor votes 51/50 when need be — including on rules at the start of the session.

It’s a good deal for Democrats too, but perhaps only in preventing more headaches than will already be coming. Had Schumer played hardball, he knows that McConnell would follow suit and force long delays on everything, including confirmations of Joe Biden’s nominees. In fact, the worry there might be less about McConnell and more about certain other grandstanding members (cough cough Cruz Hawley cough cough) of his caucus, who could do the same thing on their own. By offering up a face-saving concession to McConnell, they give him more reason to enforce some discipline on his ranks. It also provides more incentive to those grandstanders who might be the first to lose those added committee assignments if this falls apart.

The 2001 precedent prompts another question: how long will this last? It only held for a few months until “Jumpin’ Jim” Jeffords swapped his GOP affiliation for independent and caucused with Democrats in May 2001. That allowed Democrats to take full control of the Senate over GOP objections that the Lott-Daschle plan should remain in place. You can bet that both McConnell and Schumer will be looking for recruits for a similar advantage this time around. Can McConnell flip Joe Manchin? Can Schumer flip Lisa Murkowski or Susan Collins? Probably not, but they’ll certainly try, and in this case the Biden administration might give McConnell an advantage by pushing too hard for progressive agenda items like amnesty for illegal immigrants without any security concessions.

For as long as it does hold, however, this power-sharing agreement might allow for the trench warfare to abate a bit. The Capitol riots should have awoken members of both parties, and both chambers of Congress, to the damage they have been doing to this small-R republican institution. They had better find a way to live with each other and get work done properly if they expect it to survive.