Afternoon Reads

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–The Senate strikes a deal on rules reform. As we previewed earlier this week, the push to overhaul the filibuster system, led by Democrats Harkin, Merkley and Udall, petered out. In the end, reformers were left with a pact that ends secret holds, trims the number of presidential appointees that require confirmation votes and bars the practice of stalling by amendment-soliloquy, along with other dilatory tactics. Party leaders also reached a handshake agreement not to change the rules via the “constitutional option,” as Ezra Klein explains.

–Most of us are suffering from State of the Union fatigue by now, but if you’ve ever aspired to be a speechwriter or wondered about the craft, you should read former WH scribe James Fallows’ annotated version of Obama’s address.

–A Tea Party freshman chides Michele Bachmann for Tuesday night’s freelancing.

–The GOP is in the process of sorting out their differences on defense spending as well.

–Meanwhile, the Senate Tea Party caucus inks just its fourth member.

–Two days after President Obama calls for bipartisan immigration reform, GOP Senators Paul and Vitter unveil a resolution to end birthright citizenship.

–And Super Bowl wagers go highbrow.