Senate to adjourn first legislative day

Senate leaders have agreed to adjourn the first legislative day of the 112th Congress on Tuesday night, closing the opportunity junior Democrats have to change Senate rules with the Constitutional option.
 
“The Senate will adjourn tonight, ending the magic of the first legislative day,” said a senior GOP aide.
 

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Another Senate aide said the Senate would adjourn after President Obama delivered his State of the Union address.
 
After the Senate adjourns, Democrats will need 67 votes to change the chamber’s filibuster rule.
 
Sens. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info Senate panel rejects requiring Congress sign off before Iran strike Democrats grill Trump Interior chief for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change MORE (D-N.M.) and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: Park Service plans to pay full-time staff through entrance fees | Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax | Interior chief takes heat for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change Democrats grill Trump Interior chief for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs MORE (D-Ore.) had threatened to attempt to strip the minority party of some of its power to filibuster through a rules change requiring only 51 votes.
 
Under the so-called Constitutional option, on the first legislative day of a new Congress, senators can ask for a ruling from the presiding chair to amend the Senate rules and then can ratify such changes with a simple majority vote.
 
But senators who favor that procedural tactic for changing the rules acknowledge it’s only possible on the first legislative day of a new Congress.
 
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidLobbying World Mitch McConnell is not invincible Seven big decisions facing Biden in 2020 primary MORE (D-Nev.) could have stretched the first day for several weeks under the Senate’s arcane rulebook. But he decided to shelve the option after it became clear during a lunchtime meeting Tuesday that 51 Democrats would not vote for a unilateral rules change.
 
After the Senate Democratic conference met, Senate aides weren’t certain whether Udall and Merkley would go ahead and force a vote on the Constitutional option even though they lacked the necessary votes.

Some Democratic leaders worried this could open a Pandora’s box and give Republicans a precedent to impose a unilateral rules change if the GOP recaptures the Senate majority.
 
The decision to adjourn the first legislative day closes the book on Democratic plans to strip the minority party’s power to filibuster motion to begin debate on legislation.
 
They had also contemplated forcing filibustering senators to hold the floor continuously in order to block legislation. That plan will also have to wait at least another two years, or longer if Democrats lose the majority in 2012.
 
Instead, Senate Democratic and Republican leaders are negotiating a gentlemen’s agreement they hope will allow the Senate to work more smoothly.
 
“What will make that work best is not a change in the rules but a change in behavior,” Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderCollins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Senate chairman says bipartisan health care package coming Thursday It's time for Republicans to lead (again) on climate MORE (R-Tenn.), who is negotiating the agreement, told reporters Tuesday. 

 Leaders have floated a possible deal under which Republicans would promise fewer filibusters of motions to begin consideration of legislation in exchange for Reid allowing them more votes on amendments.