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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 UdallTom UdallStudy: Chemical used in paint thinners caused more deaths than EPA identified Oregon senator takes center stage in Democratic filibuster debate Bipartisan bill seeks to raise fees for public lands drilling MORE (D-N.M.) and Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleySenate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap Bipartisan Senate group calls for Biden to impose more sanctions on Myanmar junta A proposal to tackle congressional inside trading: Invest in the US 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 ReidBiden's first 100 days is stylistic 'antithesis' of Trump The Memo: Washington's fake debate on 'bipartisanship' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring 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 AlexanderLamar AlexanderThe Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality 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.