May 21, 2024

Little Known Senate Facts

Capitol Place 2

During the first legislative day of the U.S. Senate, it only takes a simple majority to alter rules for the governing body.  Every day after that, it takes a 2/3 majority.

What I didn’t know was that the first day of the Senate could actually span months:

Today is the first legislative day, but there appears to be (at this writing) no consensus among the majority Democrats how to do this. Oh, my. The clock is ticking. Whatever shall they do?

Stop. The. Clock.

By recessing at the end of each day, rather than adjourning at the end of each day, the clock effectively stops because the Senate will still be on its first legislative day.

This is not a new trick. In 1980 when, according to CNN, the late Sen. Robert Byrd was Majority Leader he stopped the clock and kept the Senate on its first legislative day from January 3 all the way to mid-June. [CNS News: How a Bill Really Becomes Law]

As someone that likes all this process stuff, I find this fascinating!

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