Senate Dems to force vote on rules

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) appeared on the Senate floor at 8.40 p.m. Wednesday night to introduce a series of Democratic resolutions that would streamline process on the Senate floor and limit the power of the minority party to arrest progress. Changes, as proposed, could force expedition of the Senate's approval of executive-branch nominees, end secret holds and prevent a single senator from forcing the reading of an entire amendment, among other changes.

This introduction represents significant forward progress on simmering negotiations on Senate rules for the 112th Congress. Earlier comments from members of leadership this week indicated there would be no resolution, but a gentlemen’s agreement between the parties concerning rules. Wednesday night’s announcement came as a surprise.

Roll call votes could occur any time between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday, depending on the length of debate, which Reid said will range between two and eight hours. The Senate will recess between 12.30 p.m. and 2.15 p.m. to accommodate caucus meetings.

Reid also passed a resolution settling the schedule for Thursday. The start of the Senate will be delayed until 10.30 a.m. in honor of the fallen in the Tucson, Ariz., tragedy and to reflect problems caused by a massive snowstorm that struck Washington Wednesday night. There will be no morning business.

As always, the Floor Action blog will follow all the action. Stay tuned and good night.