Posted Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, at 10:33 AM
The 113th U.S. Senate begins today, and there's been speculation -- all well-sourced -- that it might start with a fight over the filibuster. That might still happen. Technically, it might still happen "today." By that, I mean it may happen on January 22.
This gets confusing. The Senate's first day begins at noon, with the swearing-in of new senators. The day doesn't end, however, until Harry Reid says it ends, and the Senate adjourns. And Reid has announced that when "work" is over this afternoon, the Senate will go into recess, allowing this day to roll over. That matters, because only on the first day of business can the Senate vote on its rules package, with a mere 51-vote majority needed to approve them.
So, neither Democrats nor Republicans plan a fight today. Democrats who favor reform plan to spend the next two weeks building opposition to the "McCain-Levin" plan -- a "compromise" supported by one of the recalictrant Democrats -- and holding onto 51 votes for Sen. Jeff Merkley's plan, which would force those who filibuster to actually stand and talk. HuffPost says the 51 votes are there; I've heard divergent things about Sen. Jack Reed and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, but that was before Feinstein said she'd reintroduce the eminently filibuster-able assault weapons ban.
Merkley may release the hard details of his reform plan tonight.