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Monday, February 4, 2013

“First Day” Proceedings and Procedural Change in the Senate

Valerie Heitshusen
Analyst on Congress and the Legislative Process

In the early weeks of the 112th Congress, the Senate considered proposals to change its Standing Rules, as well as proposals to alter other practices and procedures. Three resolutions that proposed to amend the Senate rules (S.Res. 8, S.Res. 10, as amended, and S.Res. 21, as amended) received votes, but none were agreed to. These three resolutions proposed a variety of changes, chiefly focused on the operation of the Senate’s cloture rule (Rule XXII). However, the Senate did agree to two proposals to establish new Senate standing orders (S.Res. 28 and S.Res. 29). S.Res. 28 established new requirements in relation to so-called “secret holds.” S.Res. 29 altered the requirements for the reading of amendments. The proceedings on these measures occurred in the context of a debate over whether or not the start of a new Congress presents a unique opportunity for the Senate to change its Standing Rules without certain constraints presented by its existing rules. The proceedings at the beginning of the 112th Congress, however, did not ultimately provide any conclusion concerning this principle.

In the 113
th Congress, there has been continued discussion of the potential significance of “first day” proceedings. This report is intended to provide context for understanding the issues raised by these proceedings, as well as an accounting of actions taken by the Senate at the start of the 112th Congress (with potential implications for actions the Senate may still take at the start of the 113th Congress).

Date of Report: January 18, 2013
Number of Pages: 15
Order Number: R42928
Price: $29.95

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