Senators to attend bipartisan caucus meeting on Thursday

The Senate is slated to hold a bipartisan caucus meeting on Thursday, just weeks after nearly all senators attended a closed-door joint conference to end a showdown over executive branch nominees.

All 100 senators are invited to attend. According to the Senate schedule, the body will recess for a “bipartisan caucus meeting” after a cloture vote on the Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill.

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The informal gathering was hosted by Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).

An aide said there was no special agenda for Thursday’s meeting, and it would take place in the Russell Senate Office Building rather than the old chamber. Senators will be provided with food from Isakson’s home state. A similar gathering was hosted last year before the August recess.

The move comes less than a month after the full body met in the Old Senate Chamber to hash out a compromise to allow a vote on a host of President Obama’s executive branch nominees in exchange for Democrats abandoning the “nuclear option,” which would have changed Senate rules.

Only two members missed the last meeting in July.

A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to Senate leaders shortly after last month’s meeting requesting that the leadership make the meetings a regular occurrence.

A Senate aide on background said the meeting was mainly social and intended to keep the lines of communication open.

A number of executive nominations have been allowed to proceed after last month’s agreement, including Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez.

On Wednesday, senators voted to confirm Obama’s pick to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the first Senate-confirmed head for the agency in seven years. Senators voted to end debate with the bare minimum of 60 votes.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) was lobbied hard on the Senate floor to change her vote from ‘no’ to ‘yes’ while Democratic leaders held the vote open for hours so Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) could fly back to Washington to cast the deciding vote.

— Bernie Becker contributed

This story was originally published at 7:46 a.m. and was last updated at 1:31 p.m.

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