Senate votes likely despite record cold

The Senate is likely to hold votes on Monday evening despite the record cold that is causing flight delays across the country, leadership staffers say.

The office of Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin's (D-Ill.) said "nothing has changed" when it comes to votes Monday evening on the confirmation of Janet Yellen to lead the Federal Reserve and a procedural vote on federal unemployment benefits.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) office said it is "unlikely" the votes would be delayed.

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Some have speculated that Reid would reschedule the votes due to the severe weather, which is likely making it hard for some senators to get back to Washington. The cold temperatures are especially severe in Chicago, a major hub for airlines.

But rescheduling Monday's votes would require unanimous consent from all 100 members of the Senate. Republicans are unlikely to give that, as they have been using procedural maneuvers to retaliate for Democrats' use of the "nuclear option" late last year.

In November, Democrats unilaterally voted to change the Senate filibuster rules, allowing some executive and judicial nominees to advance on a simple majority vote. Republicans argued this greatly diminished minority party rights and fundamentally changed the Senate.

At 5:30 p.m. the Senate is expected to confirm Yellen to be the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve — her confirmation requires only 51 votes. Then the Senate will vote on whether to proceed to S. 1845, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, which would extend unemployment insurance benefits for more than 1 million people for three months. 

Sixty votes will be required to proceed to the unemployment bill, and it's unclear whether Democrats have the Republican support needed.

On Dec. 28, funding for federal unemployment insurance expired, affecting 1.3 million people. The three-month extension would cost $6 billion and would give lawmakers more time to come up with a longer-term solution that is offset.