“We’d all like to avert the nuclear option,” Schumer told POLITICO, but he would only say there were lots of conversations occurring between different groups of senators.

“I’m not a fan of this,” Pryor said of the 51-vote option. “I’m talking to my Democratic and Republican colleagues about changing some things around here that would make the place run better but would also honor the integrity of our traditions around here.”

Several participants say these talks aren’t quite like the Gang of 14 negotiations in 2005. The group’s bipartisan deal preserved the use of the filibuster on judicial nominees and averted a Republican-led push to impose the nuclear option. But informal talks among various senators are picking up, with some hoping the efforts could lead to a series of bipartisan proposals that can be presented to Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell when their negotiations begin in earnest.

Alexander said the talks are focused on satisfying Democratic demands that Republicans stop filibustering Reid’s attempts to immediately bring bills to the floor for debate. And he said Republicans are urging Democrats to respond to the lingering GOP concern that they they’ve been prevented from offering amendments — something Republicans are now calling Reid’s “gag rule” to block amendments from votes.